If you look at how October has shaped up for President Trump it's clear that it's been little better than living inside a shipwreck. He contracted coronavirus, attracted the painful limelight once again on his handling of the pandemic, suffered whiplash for the debate fiasco (which was, in fact, the making of Biden too) and dropped further in opinion polls.
Leading media houses have released surveys that literally state the election is over. The CNN poll says Biden is ahead by 14 points while UK's Guardian says the Democrat is ahead by 17 points. The anti-Trump pundits are predicting a rout of historic proportions.
For them, 2020 will be a repeat of 1984 when Ronald Reagan made mince meat of Democrat Walter Mondale, giving the challenger a mere 13 electoral college votes. As per mainstream polls Trump is still holding on to Texas, but the pollsters have found that his lead there is waning.
Record of 2016
If Trump loses Texas, besides having 'already lost' Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and a clutch of other battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin and North and South Carolina, then he would become another Mondale.
But the likes of CNN and the Guardian are doing a disservice to Biden and the Democratic cause by declaring the election over with the help of fanciful numbers. They should know that the election is still finely balanced. Trump's chances to win it are a tad lower than what it appeared before the first presidential debate, but he's very much in the game.
And there are three weeks left. The experts should look at the 2016 record. Opinion polls had given a clear lead to Hillary Clinton at this stage of the campaign. She was leading by comfortable margins in large swing states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
The leads ranged from 10 percent in Michigan to 0.2 percent in Ohio. But she lost all those states, which together cost her 108 electoral college votes. For perspective, in Michigan Trump overturned her 10.7 point lead to win by 0.3 percent. In Ohio, where Clinton had a 0.2 point lead, Trump won by more than 8 points.
According to RealClear Politics, the current lead figures give Biden a clear edge. If the election were to be held now, he would win 358-180. However, this calculation gives Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa to Biden.
That makes this projection a little too shaky. If you think 2016 is likely to repeat then you must let these 120 electoral votes in play. Of these, if Trump wins 90, he wins a second term in the White House.
That road is not smooth for Trump. But it didn't look easy for him at this point in the campaign in 2016 either.
Polling experts say that voters probably lied in 2016 as they didn't want to admit that they would vote for Trump, leading to the making of vastly false prediction. Experts say this fault in the polling process has been addressed this time. Yet it is interesting to watch how the actual business unfolds.
Dukakis, Clinton and Kerry
You could also say that the 2004 scenario was vastly similar to 2016. John Kerry ran a way too better campaign than George W. Bush. Kerry was a clear winner in the debates, his poll numbers were good and he was the darling of the media. Bush, on the other hand, was licking his wounds of the 9/11 attacks, was pilloried for the wars he started and ridiculed for his allegedly poor intellectual capability.
On the election day, the exit polls declared Kerry a winner. However, at the end of the long night, it was a sad spectacle to see a teary-eyed Kerry telling his crestfallen supporters that the election was lost.
It won't be wrong to extrapolate 2016 onto 2004 and use the advantage of hindsight. Like Trump in 2016, Bush in 2004 was unpopular with the vocal mainstream. Their persona is something you would not embrace and uphold in public, unless of course, you were a pure partisan. Yet, both enjoyed a strong current of silent support.
The Democrats would also do well to remember 1988, when Michael Dukakis enjoyed a 17 point lead against Republican George Bush senior. Eventually the Vice-President won the election.