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Zirpoli: Predictions six days ahead of the election | COMMENTARY

Nov. 3 will bring the end of another long and grueling election season. Regardless of political affiliation, that is something we can all celebrate.

Here are my predictions:

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It will be a big night for Democrats with a solid victory in the presidential race, a new Democratic majority in the Senate, and an increased majority in the House. I don’t see a shift in state governor races, but I think we will see a couple of state legislatures will flip from red to blue.

I predict that Democratic candidate, Joseph Biden, will be elected president with at least 52% of the popular vote and with at least 335 electoral votes. He needs 270, of course.

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To get to 335 electoral votes, Biden will win all the states that Secretary Hillary Clinton won in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as well as Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.

Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio are toss-ups and could go to Biden if he wins in a landslide, but I’ll stick to at least 335 electoral votes without them. If Biden does win those three additional states, he will win another 40 electoral votes for a total of 375. So his potential range, I believe, is between 335 and 375 electoral votes according to my calculations of current polling averages by fivethirtyeight.com and realclearpolitics.com.

The state to watch in the presidential race: Texas. I think it will be close.

For my Republican friends who want to remind me about the 2016 polls showing Clinton beating Trump, I’ll remind you that polls track popular vote preferences, not electoral college voting. The 2016 polls showed Clinton beating Trump by 3 to 6 points. She won the popular vote by about 2.1 points. The national polls were not that far off, but less than 78,000 votes across three states (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) gave the electoral advantage to Trump.

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There are two variables that make 2020 different from 2016. First, Biden is polling on average above 50%. This means he can lose a majority of late deciders and still win. Clinton was polling at about 45% and lost a majority of the late deciders. Second, Biden’s average national lead is significantly larger than Clinton’s: 9 percentage points vs. 3-5 points.

Importantly, Biden is comfortably ahead of Trump by at least 6 points on average in the key states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

With a big win at the top, Biden will carry several congressional candidates across the line. If he wins, Democrats will need a net pick-up of three seats to take control of the Senate where, according to Cookpolitical.com, nine seats are listed as toss-ups. I predict that the Democrats will pick up a minimum of four of those Senate seats in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina. Other possible Senate pick-ups include Georgia, Iowa and Montana. Republicans will pick up one Senate seat in Alabama giving Democrats a net gain of three.

The Senate race to watch: South Carolina. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is running against Democratic newcomer Jamie Harrison. Graham is predicted to win, but it could be interesting.

In the House of Representatives, I predict that the Democrats will pick up at least eight seats. After gaining 40 seats in 2018, it is difficult to have another significant gain just two years later.

University of Virginia professor of politics, Dr. Larry Sabato, is predicting a nine-seat Democratic gain. Cookpolitical.com has four seats likely to switch to the Democrats and another 25 listed as toss-ups. While I see Democrats picking up a minimum of eight seats, they have the potential to gain 18 seats on a good night.

There are 11 state governor races with four Democrats and seven Republicans in play. I don’t see any major changes. Americans tend to like their governors regardless of political preference. Maryland is an example of this.

What to look for in state legislative battles: Who will win majority rule in Pennsylvania, Texas, and North Carolina? Winners control redistricting.

For the record, I don’t trust any individual poll. I do trust the average of all the polls which control for sampling and other polling errors of individual polls. If you want the best polling averages for these races, I recommend fivethirtyeight.com as a good source. They take data from all the polling organizations, weigh each according to sample size and polling methodology, and provide a reliable average.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I hope everyone votes. It is the foundation of our democracy. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears on Wednesdays and he writes from Westminster. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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