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Suzanne Lynch’s US election diary: Can Trump win second term?

Polls show incumbent winning ground in Iowa but behind in Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin

Can Donald Trump do it? Could he win a second term in the White House? Those questions are gripping Washington DC on the eve of the election. Four years ago, Donald Trump defied election predictions and won the presidency by forging a path through the once Democrat stronghold of the rustbelt.  This year, polls have Biden ahead in the mid-west states that Trump won last time, but can they be trusted?

Polling analysis website Fivethirtyeight gives Trump a one in ten chance of winning. They point out that this time around polls should be more accurate – polling companies have adjusted their model to take account of education level for example.  Further, this year given the polarised political climate, there are fewer undecided voters. Coupled with the massive early-voting turnout, this leaves less room for a last-minute tilt to Trump as transpired in 2016.

Nonetheless, there were some encouraging signs for Republicans this weekend. The respected Des Moines Register/Selzer poll released Saturday night put Trump seven points ahead in Iowa. Yes, the state is Republican-leaning – but Biden was tied with Trump in the same poll as recently as September, suggesting the Democrat has lost significant ground. Of more concern to Democrats is that this is the same poll that had Trump ahead four years ago, foreshadowing a broader mid-western surge for Trump. Elsewhere though the news was more positive for Democrats. The final New York Times-Siena College sets of polls put Biden comfortably ahead in Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin. In particular, Biden is leading by 11 points in Wisconsin, according to the poll, an estimate that seems to chime with last week’s surprise ABC-Washington Post estimate giving a 17 point lead in the state.

Voter enthusiasm

Democrats are also confident that voter enthusiasm in Georgia and Texas will translate into wins in these southern states – should either flip, it would mark a seismic shift in the political landscape, and spell almost certain victory for Biden.


But comments from Trump last night renewed concerns on the eve of the election that the president may not accept the results of the election. Speaking as he arrived at a rally in North Carolina, Mr Trump threatened legal action. “As soon as the election is over – we’re going in with our lawyers,” he declared. “I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election,” he continued, referring to the fact that many states may not announce a final election result as they will not begin counting absentee ballots until Wednesday in some cases.

The claim by Trump that votes counted after election day are in some way illegitimate has been gathering steam for months, prompting concerns that the president may not accept the result of the election. Axios reported that the president has privately said he will publicly announce victory if he appears to be "ahead" on election night, though Trump denied this yesterday.  As I outline in this weekend's Irish Times, the battle over the counting of votes may only begin on election night

Quote of the Day:

"Does he have nothing else to worry about? Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?" former President Barack Obama on Donald Trump's obsession with crowd sizes.

On the Campaign Trail:

US president Trump will hold five rallies across four different states today in a bid to shore-up last minute support for his presidential candidacy. He will visit North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, before finishing up with a late-night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan – the location for his final campaign event of 2016.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden will be joined by Lady Gaga at a campaign event in Pennsylvania, while also squeezing in a visit to Cleveland Ohio. Singer John Legend will campaign with Kamala Harris in Philadelphia, part of an eve-of-election blitz by the Biden campaign in Pennsylvania. Vice-president Mike Pence will campaign in Pennsylvania.

Trump's adult children will continue their intrepid campaigning for their father. Donald Trump junior will be in Arizona, Ivanka Trump will campaign in Michigan and Iowa, while the president's daughter-in-law Lara Trump is holding several campaign events in Florida.

Former president Barack Obama will continue campaigning on behalf of Biden who served as his vice-president for eight years. He will visit Atlanta, Georgia before travelling on to Florida.

Recommended Reads:

I look at which senate races to watch on Tuesday as Democrats seek to win control of the chamber. Politico on how Trump could win the election: "Everything would have to break exactly right for Donald Trump to win reelection. But the recipe for an upset is there." My weekend report from Philadelphia as Pennsylvania emerges as a key battleground state in this election. Here's Axios' story on how Trump plans to prematurely claim victory if he is seen to be "ahead" on election night.Cliff Taylor on what a Biden presidency would mean economically – and for Ireland.

Sign up to get Suzanne Lynch's US Election Diary by email every weekday morning of the campaign here.