Battleground Bulletin: Trump’s path to reelection is dwindling — and he’s running out of time.

October 11, 2020

Trump’s path to reelection is dwindling — and he’s running out of time.

Our latest projection shows Biden with a clear lead, but Democrats still have work to do to seal the deal.

With only three weeks remaining until Election Day, Priorities USA’s latest projections reveal that the race for the White House continues to tip further in favor of Joe Biden — while Donald Trump is left with an increasingly narrow path to reelection and little time to turn things around.

Our model draws on expansive nationwide polling, historical results and other factors to make projections about potential vote outcomes in each state. While these projections are informed by large amounts of data, it’s important to remember that they are not set in stone. With 23 days remaining, there is still time for the race to shift in any number of directions — but these projections reflect our best analysis of the state of play at this moment.

And from where we sit, you’d much rather be Biden than Trump right now.

Biden’s path to 270 electoral votes is widening — but many key states remain in play.

While public polls have shown Biden with wide popular vote leads in recent weeks, it is important to focus on state-level results to get the clearest picture of the campaign’s status. And while Biden certainly has many more potential paths to the needed 270 electoral votes than Trump does at this moment, the margins in several key states remain close enough that the race is far from over.

Our projection currently shows 258 electoral votes solidly in Biden’s column, putting him just 12 shy of the presidency. By comparison, Trump only has 126 solid votes on his tally sheet, giving him a much steeper hill to climb in the campaign’s final days. Of the remaining electoral votes, we find that 61 currently lean toward Biden — enough to put him well past 270 — while 62 lean toward Trump and 31 remain too close to call.

So while Biden has solidified his support and is now running solidly ahead in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, he still needs at least one more lean or toss-up state to put him over the top. We currently project Pennsylvania as most likely to be the tipping point state, but there are several other options: Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia also remain well within the vice president’s grasp, and he could conceivably win each of them if things continue to break in his favor down the home stretch.

But it’s important to note that none of the aforementioned states can be considered a sure thing. While Biden currently leads in states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona, his lead is not so large as to put them safely in his column. In fact, if white non-college support for Biden decreases by 3 points and turnout among voters of color declines by 4 points relative to our expectations, Biden would lose Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, while Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada would become too close to call — turning the entire race into a toss-up.

So it remains distinctly possible that Trump could significantly overperform expectations and edge out a victory. However, in order to do so, the president would need to win virtually every single lean and toss-up state left on the board — a tough task for any candidate, much less one whose approval rating sits 11 points underwater in our latest polling. For Trump, this would essentially be the political equivalent of drawing an inside straight.

Bottom line: Biden is on the doorstep of victory, but he has not yet crossed over the threshold. Democrats must keep pushing through Election Day to slam the door shut on the Trump era.

Trump is scrambling to navigate an increasingly narrow path with dwindling resources.

Even as Trump faces that steep electoral hill, his campaign is now being forced to figure out a way to navigate it with increasingly limited resources — making the climb even more challenging.

Once billed as a financial juggernaut but now significantly trailing Biden in the cash count, the Trump campaign has been canceling TV reservations by the truckload since Labor Day, shifting further and further into a defensive crouch. After months of talking big about putting blue states like Minnesota and Nevada in play, Trump has largely abandoned that pipe dream, while also shifting millions out of several midwestern states the president won in 2016 that polls indicate are moving toward Biden. In the last month alone, he has made significant cuts to his planned buys in the crucial states of Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in states that he won handily four years ago but where he now finds himself locked in a tight race, such as Iowa and Ohio.

To the extent that there’s a strategy at play here (beyond simply trying to remain financially viable), the Trump team appears to be focusing in on that “inside straight” path mentioned above. They’re disproportionately moving what little remaining resources they have into states like Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona in a last-gasp attempt to cobble together barely enough states to keep things close and, with a little help from their widespread voter suppression efforts, hopefully find a way to eke out 270 electoral votes. After all this time and all that money spent, it’s really the only option they have left.

However, it’s not a particularly promising one. Between the Biden campaign, Priorities USA and other allies, Democrats continue to outspend Trump and his supporters in virtually all of these last remaining battlegrounds, sometimes by a margin greater than two-to-one. The president just simply doesn’t appear to have enough money left to keep pace. After Priorities battered Trump on the airwaves and online early in the year, forcing him to spend heavily throughout the spring to blunt our attacks, his coffers are nearly dry. Perhaps that’s why the Trump campaign continues to spend roughly half of its digital budget on list-building and fundraising ads, at a time where Democrats are investing much more heavily in persuading and mobilizing voters in battleground states.

Trump is running out of time to turn things around.

With mere weeks to go until voting ends, there’s simply not a lot of good news for the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and Trump simply doesn’t have much time left to right the ship.

According to our latest battleground survey, 57% of swing state voters report they plan to vote before Election Day this year, including 9% who say they’ve already cast their ballots. That means one in ten likely voters in battleground states is already off the table for Trump, shrinking the pool of available votes for a candidate who desperately needs to turn the tide and find new pockets of support in an electorate that has very few persuadable voters to begin with — and has only 23 days to do it.

Let’s be crystal clear: This election won’t be over until every vote is counted, and Democrats must continue to work our hearts out until that final buzzer sounds. But with the clock running low in the fourth quarter, Joe Biden holds an unmistakable lead — and it’s not at all clear that Trump has the time or the talent to pull off a comeback.

As reported by Henry Gomez in BuzzFeed, Donald Trump has all but given up on the Midwest — a crucial region that narrowly delivered him a first term. The Trump campaign has canceled TV buys in Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It’s become clear that the campaign is no longer committed to expanding their electoral map to states like Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Donald Trump’s spending strategy is now anchored in Pennsylvania, banking on Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina all going for Trump as well — states which Priorities now identifies as lean Dem or toss-up.

Democrats are also focused on winning Pennsylvania, but both campaign and outside spending reflect an expanded map. Joe Biden has a solid path to victory through the Midwest, but his strength in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina gives the Biden campaign multiple electoral planes on which to compete.

26% of Democrats’ spending is in the seven states to the left of Pennsylvania, compared to the Republicans’ 16%. Including and to the right of PA, Democrats are investing 66% of their dollars compared to the Republicans’ 74%:

Priorities Stays Focused on Health Care

Health care continues to be a top issue for voters as they head to the polls. “Closer Than Ever” contrasts Donald Trump’s failure on health care with Joe Biden’s promise to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act. The ad is running in both English and Spanish on digital platforms in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

“Imagine What Four More Years Would Look Like”

The coronavirus has killed over 210,000 Americans, yet Donald Trump continues to ignore experts and downplay the seriousness of the crisis. With Election Day less than four weeks away, Priorities released “Four More Years,” an ad that highlights the chaos of the Trump presidency as well as Biden’s laser-focused approach to beating the virus and rebuilding the economy.

Four More Years”  is running on digital platforms in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

We Need a President with a Plan

The coronavirus pandemic has upended Americans’ lives for months, yet Donald Trump still has no plan to get the virus under control. This week, Priorities released “Breath of Fresh Air” to contrast Trump’s failure to lead with Joe Biden’s desire to listen to scientists and tell the truth to the American people.

“The Only Constant in Trump’s White House is Chaos”

Donald Trump’s administration has turned its back on Black Americans, and voters know that Joe Biden is the right candidate to create positive change. Trump has sowed chaos throughout his time in office, whereas Biden is focused on creating millions of jobs, expanding access to health care, and fighting systemic racism.

Priorities partnered with Color of Change PAC to release “Gimme a Break,” an ad focused on reaching persuadable Black voters to hold Trump accountable and demonstrate why Biden is the right candidate for this moment.

The ad is part of Priorities’ $3.4 million persuasion program targeting Black voters in battleground states.

While Donald Trump Lies, Joe Biden Leads

Latinos have been hurt by Donald Trump’s failure to get the coronavirus pandemic under control, and many are looking to Joe Biden to restore leadership to the White House. Trump has failed the Latino community time after time, and Priorities’ own research shows that Latino voters have identified Joe Biden as the right leader for this moment.

The Moment is Now” is running in English and Spanish. The ad is already running on social and streaming platforms in Florida, and will soon expand to Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.