With the historic 2020 election just weeks away, the Nashville Health Care Council hosted a discussion with one of the nation’s election analysts, David Wasserman, U.S. House editor and senior election analyst at The Cook Political Report. Wasserman shared his in-depth analysis of the current political climate and his data-driven forecast for the upcoming election.
In 2016, Wasserman drew wide praise for his accurate pre-election analysis, including his uncanny September piece entitled, “How Trump Could Win the White House While Losing the Popular Vote.” In 2018, his interactive collaboration with FiveThirtyEight, the “Atlas of Redistricting,” took top prize for News Data App of the Year at the Global Editors Network’s Data Journalism Awards.
As for current public opinion, there are several key issues that voters are considering in 2020 as they head to the polls. Wasserman predicted that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed before the end of the year, but the implications of this could influence voters. Overwhelmingly, the public wants to keep the Affordable Care Act and its major provisions. According to a poll conducted by the Cook Political Report and Kaiser Family Foundation, 57% of respondents disapprove of efforts to ask the Supreme Court overturn the ACA. In polls conducted in September, 56% of voters disapprove of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, 47% disapprove of his handling of the economy and 56% disapprove of his role in race relations.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings unique concerns for the election itself, including high turnover of poll workers, an increase in voting by mail, a lack of state uniformity when it comes to voting processes and a potentially massive divide between the election day vote reporting and the final count, which could take days.
“We’re seeing a massive shift to voting by mail, and some states are more prepared for this than others. I’ll be watching Florida on election night, because they already have a solid process in place for mail-in ballots and will likely have processed those on election day,” said Wasserman. “If Florida goes for Biden, it will be easier to call the election on November 3. If not, we will have to wait for other states to report later.”
As for Congressional races, Wasserman predicts that Democrats will keep their majority in the House, however the Senate is too close to call. Democrats now hold a minority of 47 Senate seats, so they will need to gain four seats to have an absolute majority. According to his data, Maine and North Carolina are the states most vulnerable to flipping Senate seats from Republican to Democrat.
Finally, the Electoral College has been a topic of wide discussion, particularly since Trump won the presidency in 2016 despite losing the popular vote. According to Wasserman, Biden may need to beat Trump by 3-4 percentage points to prevail in the Electoral College. While, at the moment, it looks like Biden is up by 5 points, conditions are still changing, and it will be a tight race until the end.
“Even though there is discussion about doing away with the Electoral College, this is not going to happen any time soon,” said Wasserman. “Historically, the Electoral College operates a few points to the right. However, it will be fascinating to watch in the coming years. As the country’s demographics change, it could start benefiting the left in the future.”
The Council’s “Trends and Influencers” series is presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Supporting sponsors include AQuity Solutions, Bass, Berry & Sims, Cressey & Company and LifePoint Health.