WASHINGTON (AP) — Polls show there are far fewer on-the-fence voters this year than the unusually high number in 2016, and both the Trump and Biden campaigns believe they can still win over numbers that matter to secure the Electoral College.
Both candidates are trying to make inroads in states that could help secure a path to victory, but the dynamics of the race are remarkably stable. Biden enjoys a significant advantage in national polls while carrying a smaller edge in battleground surveys.
Fueled by personal grievance, the president has tried to amplify stories that diehard Fox News viewers know by heart but have not broken through to a broader public consumed with the sole issue that has defined the campaign: the president’s management of the pandemic.
Two weeks before Election Day, coronavirus infections are surging to their highest levels since July, and Bill Barrow, a National Politics Reporter for the Associated Press, said the state of the race for the White House is “hardening.”
“Former Vice President Biden in an apparent clear lead, so it’s very late for President Trump to try to change the trajectory of the race,” Barrow said. “We don’t see a lot of new arguments coming from (Trump), and we see an electorate that seems baked in and seems to be looking at this as the incumbent driven race that it is.”
Rural counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana sit among the top in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. Overall, the nation topped 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the university’s count on Friday; the true number of infections is believed to be much higher because many people have not been tested.
“He owns the state of the nation, which is in the midst of a pandemic that is not going away. We do have the economic fallout of that pandemic,” Barrow said. “There is the continued civil unrest. There are all of these things cascading on an incumbent who is much more naturally attuned as a politician to running as an outsider, not having to own the status quo.”
In recent days, Trump’s campaign has tried to weaponize potentially hacked emails about Biden. Trump’s inner circle has been largely whittled down to the familiar faces of four years ago. A fundraising email sent late Friday was entitled “Lock her up,” the rallying cry against Clinton.
Oftentimes, it feels as though Trump is simply recycling old material from his 2016 campaign that got him elected. In recent days, Trump’s campaign has expressed confidence that attacking Biden’s nearly five decades in Washington, along with unproven allegations of family corruption, can work again.
“Dislike of the Washington establishment, that the idea of a wealthy elite… All of those kinds of things really help Trump, and he’s still trying to play that card to draw out just that disaffected, dissatisfied, frustrated voter,” Barrow added.
On the other side, Democratic challenger Joe Biden is pushing to ‘Build Back Better’ and hopes his bi-partisan record resonates with moderates voters from both parties. But the argument could fall flat with young progressives who want more bold policies like Medicare for All.
“Will they come vote for Joe Biden? A 77-year-old white male part of the establishment. Will the far left flank that these voters who voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee four years ago, will they actually vote for Biden?” Barrow asked. “So I think when we talk about undecideds, those kinds of groups, I think are more important to determining these coin flip states, these closer states than this idea of several million voters out there choosing between Trump and Biden.”