A series of polls in swing (and not-so-swing) states released Wednesday make this reality plain.
How bad are those numbers for Trump? To put a fine point on it: Really bad.
Now, let’s look at what these numbers would mean to Trump’s chances of getting to 270 in November.
* If Trump loses Texas (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden, 270 electoral votes to 268 electoral votes.
* If Trump loses Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 278 to 260.
* If Trump loses Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 279 to 259.
* If Trump loses Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 276 to 262.
* If Trump loses Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 271 to 267.
The point here is not to say any of these electoral map scenarios are locked in. After all, we are still 152 days away from the November 3 election. (And, yes, I counted.)
Rather, they are to note that Biden, as of right now, has a WHOLE lot of different paths to 270 electoral votes, while Trump has a dwindling number. And of course, the polls on released on Wednesday don’t even deal with potential trouble spots for Trump in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia — all of which he won in 2016.
For what it’s worth, Trump’s best/most likely path to a second term would be to lose either one or both of Michigan and Pennsylvania and hold every other state he won in 2016. If he lost both Michigan and Pennsylvania, he would eke out a 270 to 268 electoral vote victory over Biden. If he lost only Pennsylvania, he would win with 286 electoral votes. Lose just Michigan, and Trump has 290 electoral votes and a second term.
“The country is as polarized as it was two months ago, and the trajectory of the contest is essentially unchanged, with Biden holding a comfortable lead in national polling and having multiple paths to 270 electoral votes.
“While daily developments give the cable television networks something to chatter about, today’s big story will be replaced by a new one tomorrow, and another one the day after that. But the fundamentals of the race remain unchanged.”
That is exactly right. As of today, Biden has more ways than at any point in the campaign to date to get to 270 electoral votes. And Trump has fewer.
Could that change? Of course! In the summer of 2016, the electoral map looked like Hillary Clinton would roll to a win over Trump. Heck, it looked that way all the way into the fall.
The election isn’t today. Trump will run a well-funded — and likely vicious — campaign that seeks to paint Biden as out-of-touch on every issue — from immigration to China to race. And as the last few months have reminded all of us, events can and do intervene to change what we think we know about the November election.
All of that is true. None of it changes the fact that Trump is looking at an increasingly difficult electoral map today, with little suggesting a major change is coming anytime soon.