In the month since we released our 2020 presidential election ratings, we’ve been forced to reckon with two major news events for which the full impacts on the presidential election are unclear, but certainly relevant: the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and President Trump’s contraction of COVID-19. While we at The Postrider have generally held to the philosophy that this race was largely decided months — if not years — ago, considering how few undecided voters there are and the intensifying levels of partisanship. We also expected (which, in hindsight, feels stupid) President Trump to behave more like your traditional incumbent and to try and consolidate support across the spectrum rather than rely on his enthusiastic but minoritarian base.
When we released our presidential ratings, we noted that we would offer a ratings-focused take on the presidential race at large, and we’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the situation in a much larger group of states than likely anyone thought they’d be looking at four years ago. And, in a situation where we decide a state’s rating truly merits adjustment, not just in the short term, but for Election Day itself, we would provide a justification and background as to why and update our presidential map to reflect that. This week, we will be making our first three ratings adjustments by moving both Georgia and Ohio from “Lean Trump” to “Toss-Up” and moving Utah from “Likely Trump” to “Safe Trump.”
Unlike other “Lean Trump” states, which include Texas and Iowa, Trump’s lead has actually decreased in the last month in Georgia, and Biden is now ahead or even in many recent polls. Considering the polling looks similar to what we’re seeing for Biden in North Carolina now, those states’ similar demographics (though Georgia has a much larger share of African-Americans, which should help Biden further), and the narrowing of Georgia’s concurrent Senate races, we see no reason to pretend Georgia is less competitive than it ought to be, and that means Biden has about the same odds to win it as Trump does.
After several high quality polls have put Biden even or ahead in the Buckeye State, it’s getting harder to ignore the signs that Ohio may be reverting to the mean after a big swing towards Trump in 2016. Democrats and the Biden campaign have also stepped up their efforts there, realizing that, if Trump cannot carry Ohio (or Florida) the election is likely sealed. Trump is behind with educated white voters and in the suburbs, and his coalition looks weaker this time than last, especially as neighboring states with similar demographics and economies, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, pull away from his reach. With that in mind, we are adjusting our rating accordingly. Ohio is now even odds for Trump and Biden.
Whatever we were thinking might happen in Utah — a Mitt Romney endorsement of Biden, a further degradation of Trump’s standing with Latter-day Saints, an expansion of Biden’s lead in other states with large Latter-day Saints populations like Arizona and Nevada — hasn’t panned out. Biden has not polled higher than 44% in any credible poll of the state, and with no third party “McMuffin” spoiler this year, Trump looks soft, but for this year, safe, in Utah.