US Election 2020 Scenarios; Trump and Biden’s path to victory

The 2020 US Presidential election is finally entering its final week, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign efforts will all come to a head when Americans get out to vote. And while the polls look good for Joe Biden, a Trump victory is by no means a lost cause. So, with no definite winner as we head into the final stretch, how will everything shake out? Will Trump get four more years, or will Biden be moving back into the White House?

‘Make America Great Again… Again’

Hillary Clinton will tell you first-hand, never, ever, count out the Donald. It must be remembered that Trump can still win the election and has a fairly viable path to do so. If Trump is to win again, he’ll likely do it in a similar fashion to 2016; defying the polls and winning most of the swing states he did last time. Trump needs to repeat wins in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona and then win in just one of the three ‘Rust Belt’ states; Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And while that may initially sound like a tall order, it remains a very real possibility as Trump holds some form of an advantage in all of these states which could give him the edge.

The President is currently leading the polls in Ohio, and when you measure in polls’ tendency to generally underestimate Trump’s support, it seems likely that Ohio will go red whether Trump wins the election or not. Arizona and North Carolina are traditionally Republican states, a factor which plays into the hands of Trump, because when election day rolls around there will be undecideds and independents who have their hands wavering over their ballot, and there’s every possibility they’ll come home to Trump, the safe GOP candidate. 

Moreover, Florida is arguably the most crucial state to win, its 29 electoral votes makes it the third biggest electoral prize, joint with New York, behind only Texas and California. California and New York are safe Democratic states and Texas is leaning towards going Republican so Florida is the most important state that is a pure toss-up. And fortunately for Trump, Florida loves an incumbent president, voting for the sitting president in every election since 1984. The incumbency factor isn’t the only advantage Trump has in Florida, he is also much more popular with Floridian Hispanics than he is with Hispanics nationwide, this could earn him vital votes in the most populous counties in Florida such as Miami-Dade which could be enough to tip him over the edge in the sunshine state. 

And finally, Trump has done the impossible before; conquering the ‘Rust Belt’. In 2016 he swept the region, winning Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, but this time he needs just one of them to win re-election. One could also argue Trump’s chances appeared much bleaker in this region in 2016 than they do now; Michigan does albeit appear to be a lost cause, but in Wisconsin Clinton’s lead was larger than the lead Biden currently holds, and the former Vice President’s lead in Pennsylvania has crashed from a high of nearly 9% to just 4.8% as of the time of writing, showing there to be some momentum behind Trump’s campaign as we head into the final days. If Trump can win one of these states he’s got a strong chance of re-election and if he can pull off a win in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania then he’d almost certainly be heading back to the White House.

So while conventional wisdom might tell us re-election for Trump appears increasingly difficult as America approaches election day, he cannot be counted out, he has a loyal and excited voter base, the polls have been wrong before and if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that conventional wisdom can sometimes be thrown out the window.

Potential wins for Donald Trump will likely look like this:

The Red Mirage/Close Biden victory

This Scenario is Joe Biden’s easiest path to victory. The electoral map will stay largely the same as in 2016 except for one key difference; Biden flips the ‘Rust Belt’ back into the Democratic column.  This would give Biden every state that voted for Hilary Clinton as well as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, bringing him to the grand total of 278 electoral votes, just north of the 270 he needs to be elected. 

This scenario is very likely as Clinton’s close wins e.g. Minnesota and New Hampshire don’t appear to be under much threat from the Trump campaign, while the ‘Rust Belt’ seems vulnerable to flip. The Biden campaign has campaigned in this area vigorously, and not just Biden himself but also many of his campaign surrogates such as his running mate Kamala Harris, President Barack Obama and even Biden’s biggest rival during the primaries; Bernie Sanders. This is a stark contrast to Hilary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, she largely took the ‘Rust Belt’ for granted, notoriously never visiting Wisconsin during the general election campaign.

And due to this much more concerted effort from Biden and his campaign, he’s enjoying larger polling leads than Clinton in the Rust Belt. A 9% lead in Michigan versus just a 3.6% lead for Clinton, and a 4.8% lead in Pennsylvania, compared to Clinton’s 1.9%. If Biden were to win these states as well as Wisconsin where he also leads, then he can afford to lose in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa and still beat Trump, winning the election.

Electoral Map for this Election scenario:

However, if this scenario were to ring true it could bring about a constitutional nightmare, an event some American political commentators have dubbed the “Doomsday Scenario”, also known as the ‘Red Mirage’. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many millions of voters will be voting by mail; the majority of these voters are also Democrats and in multiple states mail-in-ballots will not have finished being counted until days or even weeks after the actual election day. This means Democrat voters will have their votes counted much later than the majority of Republican voters, and thus election night itself has the potential to appear like a Republican landslide as Trump will be leading in many states, even states he’s not at all expected to win such as Virginia and Colorado, solely due to the fact that Republican votes will be counted quicker than Democrat votes. And due to this, Trump’s lead will be incomplete and misleading and thus this potential event has been dubbed the ‘Red Mirage’. However, this likely won’t stop Trump from claiming victory on election day and spewing his theory of mail-in-ballots being fraudulent to the benefit of the Democrats. Thus once more results come in and point to a Biden win, Trump can cry corruption and refuse to accept the result, thrusting the United States into an unprecedented crisis where the sitting president refuses to leave office and it’s not entirely known what can be done about it and what trouble Trump could cause before the inauguration in January commences, because only then does his first term officially end.

Blue Wave/Biden Blowout

An electoral blowout would be the optimum result for Joe Biden and the Democrats, a convincing win would show a thorough rejection of Trumpism and likely foil any attempt from Trump to cast doubt over the election. But what would a ‘Blue Wave’ look like? Essentially, the polls would ring true; Biden’s sizeable national margin of 9.4% according to 538 would hold, as well as his leads in the swing states.

In this scenario Biden would win by the biggest electoral margin since Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, if not even bigger, a powerful mandate for a change from Trump. And this scenario wouldn’t just send Biden to the White House, it would likely strengthen the Democrats’ hold on the House of Representatives and give them the Senate majority, a unified Democrat government, the first since 2010. This could see a flurry of liberal laws being passed in the United States. It was a divided government which prevented Barack Obama from being able to pass legislation such as gun control laws following the Sandy Hook shooting. So, if a unified Democrat government is elected, issues such gun control, climate change and Supreme Court nominations will be addressed from a wholly liberal perspective.

Overall a Biden Blowout would see him carry all of the most competitive states, places like Florida, North Carolina and Arizona, even pushing Trump to the limit in states that are traditionally very conservative such as Georgia and potentially Texas. A Democrat Presidential candidates haven’t won Georgia since Bill Clinton did in 1992, or Texas since 1976, won by Jimmy Carter.

While it isn’t probable that Biden will carry Georgia and Ohio, let alone Texas, it is by no means outside of the realm of reality. Even though Trump will likely outperform the polls to some degree, Biden is polling better in Texas and Georgia, not won by a Democrat for decades, than Trump is in the ‘Rust Belt’ where the last Republican to win there was Trump himself, just four years ago. That statement exemplifies how polling would suggest the United States has largely rejected Trump, and not to dismiss Biden’s chances in states which just a few years ago seemed out of reach a Democrat.

Potential Electoral maps for this scenario fall within this range:

The countdown to election day continues to tick and America is heading into crunch time, uncertainty is rife as this election could be anything from a real nail-biter to a Democratic landslide. So, while Joe Biden leads the polls convincingly, conventional standards would sentence Donald Trump to impending defeat, but these are far from conventional times, and Trump is even further from the conventional standard for a presidential candidate. These scenarios attempt to paint a far-reaching indication of what to expect on election day but can only be taken as that; attempted indication. Nothing is a sure thing when Donald Trump is involved, just ask Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, two individuals who were ‘certain’ to beat Trump, yet Donald Trump still emerged victorious and will be looking to add Joe Biden to that list.

Electoral Maps created using


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