July 23, 2020
The third week of July is too far out from Nov. 3 to make any safe predictions about the outcome of the 2020 elections, cautioned the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker’s guest on the latest W&D webcast. “Only a fool would project November elections in July,” Sabato said.
Not only the fact that November is still more than three months away makes crystal-ball gazing unadvisable. There’s also the nature of what has been an extraordinary year, one that has already upended expectations multiple times.
“Just because we’ve had three or four black-swan events already this year, that doesn’t mean we won’t have any more before November,” said Sabato, four-time Emmy winner and author of nearly two dozen books including A More Perfect Constitution.
Nonetheless, while Sabato avoided making any ironclad predictions 15 weeks before the polls close on the election or re-election of the President, all 435 U.S. Representatives and one-third of the Senate, the founder and director of UVA’s Center for Politics analyzed the campaign trail from the vantage point of where matters sit at present.
For example, he noted that while Joe Biden has a real chance of becoming the next President, it’s hardly out of the question for Donald Trump to win re-election on the strength of an electoral college vote—even if he falls short in the popular vote, as he did in 2016.
Conversely, Sabato said the President’s re-election team is aware that they’re operating with a number of disadvantages in the current environment. Not least of these is the limitations on staging the rallies that energized both Trump and his base four years ago.
There’s a hurdle facing Biden and his team, though. Having committed to naming a woman as his vice presidential pick, Biden risks alienating Democrats who don’t approve of his final choice, whoever she may be.
Moreover, that veep needs to be someone who voters see as a credible “understudy” for—and potential successor to—Biden, who will turn 78 a couple of weeks after the election. Sabato said that given his age, it’s unlikely that Biden would stand for re-election four years from now.
“They’re voting for a ticket this time,” he said.
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