Why Biden Will Win
Post-Election Headlines (Written Pre-Election)
Here’s a list of headlines we may see once we know who’s headed to the White House in January 2021. I’m placing these in the order I think most likely to happen.
This isn’t meant to be the be-all, end-all of reasons. I sat down and wrote out which points I think will matter. Other folks may point out different rationales. That’s fine; they’re wrong.
A major heads-up: this is a mix of logic and emotion. Some are strategic; some are tactical. I am not attempting to write objectively. That said, I stand by all points, facts, data, etc. If you see an error, please point it out.
Not all of these will resonate with you. But if this comes to pass, at least one of them will be the reason. Which one(s) do YOU think it’ll be?
1. Common Sense Prevailed
Take a step back from it all. And ask yourself this question: was it ever plausible that Trump 2020 was gonna do better than Trump 2016? And that Biden 2020 was gonna do worse than Clinton 2016? That’s all you really needed to know.
If you want some data, then fine: “According to estimates by TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, more than 16 million people who didn’t vote in 2016 have cast ballots in 2020.” In early voting, first-time voters favored Biden 54%-39%.
Intuitively, one would have to know that always favored Biden: the single biggest reason Clinton lost is almost certainly because many of “her” voters stayed home, assuming she had it in the bag.
2. Trump’s a Loser
Donald Trump is a loser. He’s used to crashing out of stuff. It’s why he blew his billion-dollar campaign cash advantage within months. It’s why “Trump” is only a hotel in Las Vegas, banned from operating as a casino. It’s why Everything Trump Touches Dies.
You know those Geico ads? “It’s what you do.”
If you’re Donald Trump, you blow it. It’s what you do.
3. It’s the Covid, Stupid
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. One that the President totally botched — on tape. Is it any kind of surprise that he lost? Moreover, the economy is in shambles. Trump kept saying we’re “rounding the turn.” You know what “rounds the turn” a lot? Something going down the toilet.
It didn’t help that the Dow Jones had its worst week since the pandemic began.
4. The Polls Were Right — And Never Really That Wrong in 2016 Anyway
Almost all numbers pointed to a Biden victory. The polls were stable and his lead was large; he consistently polled above 50%, which Hillary Clinton did not. There were almost no undecided voters to break for Trump.
Moreover, since the perception was that the pollsters got it wrong in 2016 and in 2018, they were incentivized to miss the other way. Now, that doesn’t mean they fudged the raw numbers. But knowing how much of their credibility (and employment) was on the line, they overcorrected their methodology by oversampling Whites without a college degree. Let’s put it this way: I love shooting baskets. If I’m at the line and I leave two free throws short, I’m practically hissing at myself: “Don’t you dare leave this short, you moron. Throw it over the backboard if you have to.” And that’s what they did. No matter what, they weren’t gonna miss short.
Besides, state polls tend to underestimate Republicans in the Midwest but underestimate Democrats in the Southwest. Arizona was always in Biden’s camp.
And perhaps most importantly, the numbers track. Biden’s favorability is much higher than Clinton’s or Trump’s. If you don’t like Trump (unfavorable: 52.7%), and with no viable third-party option, you’re probably voting for Biden, whose national polling average is 51.8%. If you do like Trump (favorable: 44.8%), you’re probably voting for him (polling at 43.4%).
Finally, too much was made of the spike in Trump’s support amongst Black and Latinx males. While the struggle was real, their sheer numbers were too small to sway the election. Whites on the other hand, are still nearly 70% of the electorate. Even a tiny shift is a seismic one.
Change the trajectory of an east-coast-bound airplane from LAX by only a few degrees and you’ll end up in Miami instead of New York. I’d explain this more, but you get the analogy.
5. Power to the People, Right On
For nearly four years, in Washington, it seemed like Trump won at every turn. But at the polls, Trump seemed to lose at every turn. Many candidates he endorsed lost in the general elections. And the GOP got shellacked in the 2018 midterms, with Democratic votes outnumbering Republicans’ by nearly 10 million. The writing had been on the wall this whole time: once the decision came back to the American people, they were always gonna throw Trump out.
6. Trump’s Campaign Actually Hurt Him
Just like his Twitter account and his big, fat mouth, Trump’s campaign actually helped him hemorrhage voters.
a. His slogan, “Keep America Great” made no sense, as the pandemic is peaking again.
b. Strategically, they erred by setting the bar so low for Biden that if he could string three sentences together, he looked like a genius. Four was a stretch, but three? He did it!
c. “Sleepy Joe” sucks as a nickname. “Low Energy Jeb” is his crowning achievement. He simply couldn’t define Joe Biden. In fact, this needs its own paragraph…
7. Brand Me
… The 2020 campaign was a case study in the power of branding: Joe Biden had been known as a moderate for decades. Painting him as a crazy liberal only worked with Trump’s base and largely not with swing voters. They tried the same with Kamala Harris: one minute, she was the most liberal person in the Senate; the next, she was too tough on crime for the Black community. Pick one, yo.
In many ways, the 2016 election was also a case study in the power of branding: conservatives had demonized Clinton for nearly 30 years and she wasn’t able to overcome that in a few months.
8. Trump Cancelled
Joe Biden’s “Restoration” positioning was perfect. People longed for the days of Barack Obama — and every other President. We’ve always had deep disagreements, but we collectively longed for a sense of calm.
I had a strong sense Trump was headed for defeat when the candidates held dueling town halls. Almost everyone figured Trump would draw more viewers. He’s a trainwreck, after all. But he didn’t.
Biden, on one network, ABC, pulled 14.1 million. Trump, on three, pulled 13.5 million. People were tired of the same old soap opera.
And the reason they’re called “soap operas” is because of my alma mater, Procter & Gamble. This country runs on one thing: sorry, Indians, it’s not Dunkin’. It’s advertising dollars, which are a function of ratings. And the moment it was clear that Americans have severe Trump fatigue, the powers-that-be took note.
The one thing the media did to keep ratings high was to sell this as a horse race. Deep down, they knew it was never close. Given the remarkably steady nature of the race, Joe had it in the bag the entire time.
I mean, just look where the battles were fought: all on states that Trump won, not that Clinton won.
Toni Basil sang, “You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand.”
Well, Biden took the Presidency the day he took the Democratic Nomination.
Doesn’t quite have the same ring, but hey… Mickey.
9. Biden Focused Like Ariana Grande
Biden ran a nearly perfect campaign. Minimal gaffes… didn’t fall down, as I thought he might pull a Gerald Ford/Chevy Chase. And above all else, he stayed focused. He knew the race came down to MIPAWI… and he campaigned like hell in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
And surprise! There was no October Surprise.
10. Money Changes Everything
Biden outraised Trump by gargantuan proportions. Like, it wasn’t even close. And it wasn’t just the élites. The average donation for Trump was $71. For Biden, $76. Biden’s air game (TV and radio ads) drowned out Trump’s messaging.
11. No Sexism in the Campaign Room
Chauvinism was a factor in Clinton’s loss. It helped that Joey Biden was an old, white man. (He’s still an old, white man.) (He’s still alive, at the time of our last refresh on Google.)
Since both sides lean heavily into identity politics, an old, white male paired up with a vibrant, black-and-brown female was a demographic home run.
12. I’m So Scared
Fear is the strongest motivator. And Americans so feared a second Trump term that this outweighed any Love that Trump voters had for their candidate… and rendered any Biden Love not quite as important.
13. True Colors
Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are fundamentally blue states. They “wanted” to swing back — and did.
14. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Back in 2004, my favorite website was JohnKerryIsADouchebagButImVotingForHimAnyway.com. Yes, that used to be a real site.
The one number that scared me to death — and I turned out to be right* — was that Republicans were more enthusastic to vote for George W. Bush than Democrats were to vote for John Kerry.
*I wasn’t totally right. I did live, after all.
15. Updraft Coattails — Like Guiliani’s Pants
Biden better call those Senator-elects in Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia. Because enthusiasm for them was so high, they actually had an upward effect on turnout at the Presidential level. Mark Kelly lifted Biden to victory in Arizona… fitting for an astronaut.
16. We Engineered That Well
An overwhelming majority of Americans feel the country is on the wrong track. That was always an ominous sign for the incumbent. A freight train headed his way, so to speak.
17. The Woke Woke Up
As Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Never mistake motion for action.” The youth had had enough of the talk and showed up in historic numbers. The long-awaited, much-ballyhooed young voter turnout finally materialized.
18. Trump Really Was That Bad
The crazy thing about Donald Trump (as if there’s only one crazy thing) is how popular he could’ve been. Remember the exchange that Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Sally (Meg Ryan) keep having in When Harry Met Sally?
Marie: I don’t think he’s ever gonna leave her.
Sally: I know he’s never gonna leave her.
Marie: You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.
Trump’s base was never gonna leave him. So, I could never understand why Trump didn’t try to expand his base.
(The reason is that he was never a four-dimensional chess player but rather somebody who thought with his dick. His id. Chasing the next shiny object right in front of him.)
Had Trump given the Democrats infrastructure and toned it down even a little bit, he could’ve been the next Nixon: gone from deeply distrusted to wildly popular.
To deeply distrusted again, but let’s just stop at wildly popular.
19. Voter Suppression Wasn’t the Difference It Was Feared to Be
Did the GOP try to suppress votes? You bet. But two factors mitigated against this:
a. They always try to do this, so that was built-in.
b. The margins were wide enough that it didn’t matter.
That said, it’s time for Democrats to start codifying things (back) into law, starting with many protections stripped from the Voting Rights Act (ironically removed when Obama was President).
Voter fraud remains “not a thing.” Republicans allege it, but the reason it’s so rare is because the punishment is so severe. Are you really gonna risk going to prison for your one vote that almost certainly will not swing the election to your guy?
20. Meet the Shy Biden Voter
In 2016, the Shy Trump voter was a thing (but not that big a thing). In a sweet twist of irony, precisely because the Trump voter was anything but shy, many Biden voters stayed quiet due to intimidation.
21. Believe It or Not… The Media Got Smarter
The mainstream media didn’t take the Hunter Biden bait like they did with Hillary’s emails in 2016.
22. Ohio Snaps Its Streak
Ohio had voted for the winner in every Presidential election since 1964. But this time, Trump won my home state and lost the election.
Of all the predictors, from Michael Moore to the State of Ohio to Busken Bakery to Halloween Masks, I’ll place my faith in Allan Lichtman and his 13 Keys, which almost sounds like Bill Haley and His Comets. He has called every race accurately since 1984.
23. I Approve This Message
Endorsements by public figures and newspapers (for the Gen Zers… newspapers were these papers that contained the news) don’t matter that much. But when periodical approval is this lopsided and you attract more opposing-party endorsements than any President in decades, well, that matters.
24. America, F*ck Yeah!
The United States remains the shining city on the hill. We have been the global leader in innovation for over a century. It was never any wonder that Americans, fundamentally good people, were gonna make the right choice and turn the international tide away from nationalism and towards a more progressive future.
Click here for Why Trump Will Win.
Rajiv Satyal is a comedian. And he’s usually funnier than this, when the world’s future isn’t at stake the next day.