Sunday, November 01, 2020


Despite the fact that he's trailing by 7 in the highly regarded Des Moines Register poll of Iowa, Joe Biden has had a good run of polls in the past 24 hours -- an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has him up by 10 nationwide (Hillary Clinton's best poll in the final week of the 2016 race gave her a 7-point lead, and this isn't Biden's only double-digit poll in recent days), and Biden leads in four swing states in new New York Times/Siena polls.

So Biden might be on his way to a fairly comfortable win. But you'd think that in addition to Pennsylvania, which might be the key to the election, he'd want to campaign somewhere -- North Carolina? Arizona? -- where he's looking strong but might need an extra push.

Instead, he's going to Ohio.

Is he doing this because he really thinks Ohio is more important than other states where he's had better polling? Or is this why he's going there?

It appears that Biden not only needs to win the election, he needs to stave off the appearance of defeat in the additional pseudo-electoral contest Trump and his allies have invented for this year: who's winning as of Election Night. There really might be value for Biden in keeping Ohio too close to call on Election Night so Trump can't claim victory there right away. I know that President Trump's hope is to steal the election by winning one or more favorable rulings from a Supreme Court and federal judiciary packed with right-wing judges. My hope is that this won't work because the John Roberts, at least, likes to win victories for Republicans and the plutocracy without attracting a lot of attention from the broad general public. Even casual observers will be watching what happens in the courts after the polls close. They'll know that legitimate votes were cast and haven't been counted. Biden not only needs to win, he needs to appear to be potentially on his way to a win as the cases are being heard. So he probably wants Ohio to appear competitive even if Trump has an advantage there, so Trump can't plausibly make a premature claim that he won key states, therefor he won the election.

On the other hand, maybe Biden really does have a shot there -- FiveThirtyEight says Ohio is a pure tossup. But whatever's going on there, Biden needs to keep it close.

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