So much for that landslide, writes Ryan Lizza at Politico. He does some quick math and says Joe Biden's most realistic best-case scenario puts him in the White House with 290 electoral votes—down from Donald Trump's 304 in 2016 and Barack Obama's 365 and 332 in 2008 and 2012, respectively. "A win, of course, is a win," he writes. But as the article's headline not-so-delicately puts it, "Biden looks screwed even if he wins." Lizza unpacks that, saying this isn't shaping up like the 1980 election, where Ronald Reagan prevented Jimmy Carter from having a second term in a "realignment"—a shift that is usually fueled by a defined agenda and policies.
"This campaign was always a referendum on Trump, rather than an affirmative endorsement of Biden and his agenda," writes Lizza. "That dynamic already cut against Biden claiming a strong positive mandate. He needed a crushing rejection of Trump to strengthen his case." And that's just part one. Part two is that it's very possible Democrats won't reclaim the Senate. If that's so, Biden would be the first president in 32 years to take office without his party controlling Congress. "A President Biden’s agenda would be defined by his ability to win over the entire Senate Democratic caucus, from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin, and then as many as 10 Republicans." Sure, he could still go on to have a real impact as president, "but this is not the scenario many Democrats hoped and prepared for." (Read the full column here.)