Looking for election clues with 6 days to go

As the clock ticks down to Election Day in 2020, election experts continue to be swamped with all kinds of polling, early voter data, and other indicators about this election. What does it tell us? Does it gives us any insight on who might win the race for the White House? What about Congress?

Here are ten items that caught my attention on Tuesday.

+ Texas. Texas. Texas. Texas. What is going on in Texas? I don’t know. But to me, it’s the most interesting part of the Election 2020 Puzzle at this point. Turnout is through the roof in the Lone Star State. Part of is probably enthusiasm among Democrats, but part of it must be enthusiasm among Republicans, too. Half a dozen counties have already had more votes cast than in all of 2016. Remember - if Joe Biden wins in Texas, it doesn’t really matter what else is happening around the nation. But I still find it hard to believe that the GOP is going to lose in Texas.

+ What’s the impact of the Coronavirus? You can’t think about Election Day 2020 and not wonder how the virus outbreak is going to impact the results. Making it even more of an election issue is that the US is now going through a third surge, with the nation setting daily records in recent weeks, now at an average of over 71,000 new cases per day, and deaths over 800 per day. Right now, we are seeing cases jump in the Upper Midwest - in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Biden leads in the polls in all four states. One wonders what the exit polling will show on the virus.

+ What about the Independents? The swing voters are often those who do not identify with either party, but jump on board and give momentum to one candidate in the race for President. We are seeing evidence that those with no party affiliation are tilting more toward the Democrats and Joe Biden. In some states, independent voters have cast more early votes than Republicans. Obviously we don’t know how they are voting, but polls certainly give us some clues to chew on. Whether that is true all around the nation is something we just don’t know right now.

+ Why was President Trump in Omaha, Nebraska? The Cornhusker State is not going to vote for Joe Biden - so why was the President in Omaha on Tuesday night? It’s because of the unique way that Nebraska hands out Electoral Votes, both to the overall state winner (2 Electoral Votes), and one to the victor in the state’s three individual Congressional Districts. The only other state which does that is Maine - and the President was there over the weekend. As for his Nebraska visit, President Trump oddly claimed on Tuesday that Republicans don’t always win the Omaha area, which is not true. Another reason the President was in Omaha - Iowa is just across the Missouri River.

+ Offense and Defense in the final week. The schedule tells a story. Where are the candidates going on the campaign trail? Joe Biden was in Georgia on Tuesday. Let’s be real - if Biden wins in Georgia, he’s probably going to be winning in a lot of places. Same goes for the Kamala Harris visit to Texas. And a Biden stop in Iowa. Those are efforts to expand the map. President Trump meanwhile is playing defense. He’s not going to hold rallies in any Blue states in a late bid for victory. He’s sticking with familiar swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. One could even argue his next trip to Arizona is not a sign of strength, either.

+ What can we glean from the early vote? It’s obvious that we are headed for higher turnout in 2020, as several states will surpass four years ago before voters even go to the polls on Election Day. The other big note is the presence of voters who did not cast a ballot in 2016. That’s about one-quarter of the turnout so far, with indications that those voters skew younger. Ask yourself which candidate do you think 18-29 year olds would be more likely to support.

+ The President goes against election law. On Twitter, and then again to reporters, President Trump on Tuesday said he wants a winner declared on November 3rd - Election Day - saying that extended vote counting is “totally inappropriate” and not allowed under law. Except it is allowed under state laws. Most states take weeks to get a final vote total. Some states don’t certify their final results until December. You can look at a list at this link.

+ Follow the advertising money. Just like President Trump is playing defense at this point in the race, so too are Republicans in the race for Congress. National Republicans are going to spend $14 million on ads in 28 different U.S. House races, most of which are GOP seats in the Congress. With six days left, Democrats are favored to expand their majority in the House. But the Senate remains a toss up at this point. The fate of the Senate may hinge on a series of races - and the late decisions of voters on whether the GOP will stay in charge.

+ Speaking of the battle for the Senate. Republicans are giving a late infusion of advertising money to four key states: Georgia - where there are two U.S. Senate seats up for the voters - and Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas. Democrats believe they have a very good chance to defeat Sen. Joni Ernst R-Iowa, and Sen. Cory Gardner R-Colorado. But the infusion of money into Kansas is a bit surprising. While Democrats have talked about winning that open seat - evidently the GOP is worried enough to spend $227,000 on late advertising in the Sunflower State.

+ Overall, Biden is spending much more than Trump on ads. Advertising people have told me hair-raising tales of how big the edge is for Joe Biden over President Trump in ads on their television stations. And these numbers show exactly that. And it has been this way for several months. We were talking about Biden having an edge in ads back in August - before the party conventions. And it has stayed that way through to Election Day.

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau

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