Members of the Optimist Editorial Board have individually written their electoral college predictions for the upcoming presidential election. A prediction is not an endorsement for a candidate, as the Optimist will not endorse a presidential candidate in the upcoming 2020 election.
ACU Optimist 2020 Presidential Election Predictions
Owen Simpson: If 2016 taught us anything, it was to take state polls with a grain of salt. With that being said, we find ourselves in an eerily similar situation to where we were four years ago. The Democrats are once again holding a lead in many states they supposedly were winning in the previous election. So, the big question moving into Election Night should be whether the polls are taking into account the silent Trump voter that wasn’t counted before. The short answer– we’re not sure. What will undoubtedly be a historic election for many reasons will be decided by voter turnout. More voters have already cast their ballot in this election compared to last year’s election five days before Election Day. It’s undoubtedly true that President Trump’s road to victory is far more difficult than former Vice President Biden, but that was also the case in 2016. Here’s the underlying factor– because more people are voting than ever before, especially younger voters, it will counter the 2016 election. Four years ago, we saw a high percentage of people who voted for Obama in 2012 never vote. Politics is a pendulum, and I believe the pendulum has shifted far back enough in four years that it’s ready to move back. Even with the polls being as far off as they were, several states this year are outside 2016’s margin of error. I have Biden taking the election in my poll, but it’s worth noting this election will likely go down to just a few states. Even a doomsday scenario of a 269-269 split is within reason, which would lead to a Trump/Biden victory based on a GOP controlled Senate and the current structure of the U.S. House of Representatives. Theoretically speaking, Trump could lose the electoral college and the popular vote but still be re-elected president when faithless electors are taken into consideration. All that would have to change in my current prediction for a 269-269 tie would be Minnesota or Wisconsin shifting red, both of which are incredibly tight battleground states.
Dillon Daniel: I want to say that I believe this will be a tougher fight for President Trump. According to the RCP Battleground statistics, Biden is in better shape being ahead of Trump by 3.4 points compared to Clinton’s 1.6 points. Also, Biden is in much better shape leading up to the election being up 7.7 points five days before the election compared to Clinton’s 2.0 points. I think this election will be a popular vote victory for Biden as it was for Clinton. But since elections are not won by the popular vote, I am predicting that President Trump will come out on top once again. The states I predict he will lose are Arizona and Wisconsin. According to FiveThirtyEight, polls in Arizona favor Biden over Trump slightly while he was predicted to win the state by a large margin last year. Regarding Wisconsin, I believe the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha along with the civil unrest that followed afterward will turn the state blue once again. However, I don’t think any of this will stop the pre-existing and new “silent” Trump supporters. A large reason why Trump was victorious in 2016 was the amount of in-your-face, vocal support for him which I believe swayed many Americans over to him, and I think we are going to see that again. Although Biden has forced his rallies to be limited in capacity because of social distancing, I think this will still hurt him in the long run as Trump supporters continue to pour out like flocks to his rallies. I’m predicting that anyone living in strict COVID-19 regulation states like Michigan will go to the polls and vote for Trump, as he is synonymous with fewer restrictions in general regarding coronavirus. I don’t think this is going to be an easy win for Trump at all, like the information I laid out has shown. But the last election has shown us that when we least expect a figure as polarizing as Trump to lose, there are just as many people who are dedicated to ensuring his victory.
Sydney Varner: Predicting this year’s election results after 2016’s incredibly close race is definitely a challenge; polls are incredibly close and things can change by the hour. However, despite the electoral college and popular vote being separated in 2016, I don’t believe that will happen again this year, and I am optimistic the popular vote will be representative of our elected president. As of now, the polls are close but pulling towards Biden in key states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida helping Biden into a lead. However, I would not be surprised if polls shifted towards Trump in the last few days before the election, which would give Trump an edge. While I optimistically am predicting a win for Biden, I would not be surprised if Trump won again. Statically speaking, presidents running for re-election will be re-elected considering only 10 presidents have lost out on their second term. This race will be the closest we will have seen in a long time, however, I still believe the popular vote will be more representative this election and that Biden will pull ahead.
Alyssa High: Once I accounted for already certain states, I looked at states with major protests and known liberal views and marked them blue. Looking at recent polls, I think Biden might win Florida, which generally swings the national numbers in favor of Biden. The major identifier of swing states or states that I thought may change is sites of major BLM protests like Minnesota or sites of anti-Trump rallies and marked them blue. I did the same for the red states with major Trump rallies, like Oklahoma. The coastal states are typically blue and most haven’t changed in years, but some of the red or swing states are seemingly becoming blue as tensions with COVID-19 and the election rise. Minnesota is best representative of this, since they’ve had major looting and riots in support of BLM I think they’ll be blue in the coming election. States like this swing the U.S. in such favor of Biden that I think he could win.
Riley Fisher: I struggled to predict this election’s results because the close results in many states complicate making a simple prediction. I feel that any claims I make could change in hours, let alone in the days leading up to the election. However, because we are predicting the electoral college results and not the popular vote results, I think that the red states will triumph over the blue and Trump will win the election. Statistically, it seems more likely that history will repeat itself, especially with a standing president running for re-election, even though the popularity of Biden continues to grow. I think we will see events similar to the 2016 election. Biden will likely take the popular vote by a fairly large margin, but Trump will hotly contest the results and it will come down to the final few electoral votes and a potential recount, depending on the states that are closer in their results. While I would optimistically like to say that larger battleground states like Texas could flip to blue and determine a different result, I don’t think that the electoral college in these states will allow for that due to the largely one-sided control of the House and Senate. Seeing Republican groups take a stand against Trump remaining in office is encouraging for Biden, but I do not think that even this will be enough to sway the college. While this race will be even closer than we have seen recently, I expect the results will leave us in a situation that we have seen for the last four years.
Tavian Miles: Personally I’ve never been someone who’s ever wanted to get into politics and even now for that is still the case. I’ve always been a sports guy, but I do know that this is going to be one of the most historic elections that has ever happened. Now, the one thing that I do know is that we shouldn’t let the early voting trends determine who is going to win the election. It ultimately might come down to one state. I’m proud to say that I voted, and I’m glad we’re seeing lines at the polls and early voting turnout go through the roof. Now if I have to make a prediction I think it will be the same thing that we saw in 2016. Former Vice President Biden might win the overall popular vote, but President Trump will win the electoral college with key wins from states such as Florida where Democrats are voting early, but Republicans could likely be waiting until the last day of early voting or even election day itself. Now there are certain swing states that are still up in the air about the electoral college and which way it could go, but ultimately they might stay the same as what it did in 2016. Ultimately, we will see the same results as we did in 2016, where one person will win the popular vote and another will win the electoral college.
Carrie Johnston: After months of waiting in the tumultuous year that is 2020, Election Day is right around the corner. This year was full of different huge events, from COVID-19, many social justice movements and one of the quickest supreme court appointments we have seen in modern history. We are also witnessing one of the most unique elections in recent years. We have already seen more people vote early this year versus the total number of people who voted in 2016. As of this point, I believe that the Democrat nominees, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, will edge out President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Though Trump has his “silent” supporters, many other variables may lead the election to swing in Biden’s favor. One of the biggest being that the nation is seeing its biggest young voter turnout in many years, who have historically and according to certain studies and polls, tend to vote more for Democrats than Republicans. Another reason being the quick appointment and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. One of Ginsberg’s final requests was to wait until after this election to appoint her replacement. There has also been a supposed precedent set in 2016 when the Republican Senate stalled Obama’s nominee for months after the death of Antonin Scalia. With these facts in mind, many people have become angry at Trump and the same Republican Senate when they confirmed Barrett. Which, in the end, could benefit Biden. Biden is also leading in some swing state polls that were essential to Trump’s surprising victory in 2016. But if there is one thing that this year and 2016 has taught us, we should expect the unexpected. The biggest thing to potentially expect is that we will not know the winner on election night and a potentially long, messy election process that we have not seen since 2000 with George W. Bush and Al Gore.