Biden on track for election explosion, but Democrats fear another Trump surprise

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An FT analysis of recent state polls gives Biden an almost seven-point advantage in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and a six-point advantage in Wisconsin – three Midwestern states that played a pivotal role in the victory of Trump from behind in 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (left) and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris greet supporters outside the Chase Center in Delaware at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention on August 20, 2020. Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said the intensely polarized nature of US politics meant it was “hard to imagine” a Biden landslide similar to 1984, when the Republican Ronald Reagan has achieved 49 states out of 50 and 60 percent of the popular vote.

But he added that the president “appears to be doing all he can to create” such an outcome, pointing to Trump’s decision late last week to withdraw from the second presidential debate.

“It was an opportunity for him to progress,” said Sabato. “He’s the one behind. Even his own people privately admit that he is late, and not by a bit. They are very worried about it.

Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican pollster, said he did not understand Trump’s request to hold the two remaining debates closer to election day given the number of Americans planning to vote early.

“Donald Trump is too far to close the gap if he doesn’t have two debates,” he said. “There is no more fruit at hand. There’s no one who hasn’t made at least an initial decision who they turn to. The more he goes, the more difficult it becomes. In fact, the more it becomes impossible.

Amid concerns about the health risks of in-person voting on election day during the pandemic, at least 9.1 million Americans have already voted, according to the US Elections Project, a database compiled by Michael McDonald, professor at the University of Florida.

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