Harwood noted that Trump’s support is currently at approximately 43 percent nationally. To surpass Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s steady lead, the incumbent must connect to new supporters, a demographic Hardwood says is significantly smaller this year than in 2016.
“Though Trump eked out an electoral victory four years ago with 46.1% of the popular vote, he cannot repeat that feat with 43%.”
Harwood pointed to three significant differences in the circumstances of the 2020 election. First, he said that polling suggests that there are fewer 2020 voters than 2016 that are undecided, leaving Trump less room to work with undecided voters.
In addition, he highlighted that the third-party candidates have a significantly smaller following this year than in 2016, meaning when this backing inevitably fades, the president will have less potential votes to scoop up.
Finally, Harwood noted that polling suggests less Americans face pressure from their negative views of the candidates.
The CNN analyst also highlighted that Trump has been placed in a defensive position with recent reporting, including his alleged attacks on U.S. soldiers and comments on the coronavirus in audio from an interview with Bob Woodward. Although he may survive these bombshells, he does not appear to have gained support nationally.
Even if the president manages to make up lost ground, John Sides, a Vanderbilt University political scientist, noted the limitations of the current election cycle.
“Even if he closes strong, fewer undecideds just means it’s harder to close that gap. With every passing week, there’s just less and less than can move the needle.”
A recent Politico election forecast echoed CNN’s analysis of Trump’s chances. Although the publication claimed that Trump’s chances have not disappeared, it said that “time is running short” to gain ground on his opponent.
Notably, the publication pointed to two regions — Colorado and Virginia — that have turned away from Trump in what could be a bad sign for his campaign.
“Two long-time battleground states, Colorado and Virginia, are almost entirely off the board for Trump,” the report read. “He is barely contesting the combined 22 electoral votes from both states, while Biden has booked a nominal amount of TV advertising for the final stretch just to be safe. Colorado and Virginia have moved from ‘Lean Democratic’ to ‘Likely Democratic.'”
Nevertheless, Biden’s lead is “slightly smaller” than the publication’s last election forecast two months ago.