The 2020 Presidential Election has come and gone.
And while we saw a few shockers in House and Senate races, the presidential race was very easy to predict for those who understand the science of polling or closely monitored polling aggregates showcased by RealClearPolitics.com or FiveThirtyEight.com.
Yes, the expected margins were sometimes off – in state and national polls – but the outcomes were generally accurate.
In the presidential race, for example, the Real Clear Politics aggregate of top pollsters correctly picked the winner of 49 of 51 states (including Washington DC), only missing Florida and Georgia.
That’s 96 percent accuracy.
And no, Arizona wasn’t a surprise as Democratic nominee Joe Biden was projected to win there by less than a percentage point. Moreover, we’d seen Democrat Kyrsten Sinema defeat Trump-backed Republican candidate Martha McSally by 2.4 percentage points in that state’s 2018 U.S. Senate race. Sinema’s convincing win was an indication of things to come in a state that had already been trending less Republican.
Even Georgia was well in-play in 2020, so the result was not a total shock. Trump was projected to win by a percentage point but lost by 0.2%. However, and in pollsters’ defense, President Trump and Biden often exchanged leads there in the months preceding the election.
Biden’s win in Georgia was allegedly a shock to Trump’s inner circle but anyone who understood the state’s changing demographics should have realized the Peach State wouldn’t be a guarantee for Trump in lieu of the polling returns that suggested Biden was poised to deliver an upset there.
Florida was the only legitimate surprise in the presidential election as it relates to pollsters’ picking the winner. Although it was projected to be a razor-thin victory for Biden, Trump triumphed there by a comfortable 3.3 percentage points.
Analysis: 2024 Presidential Election Prediction
Barring any Biden Administration catastrophes or miracles by 2024, it’s very easy to predict what’ll need to happen for a presidential candidate to achieve victory in the next election.
It’s Likely Only About 125 (of the total 538) Electors Will Truly be Up For Grabs in the 2024 Presidential Election.
Leans Democratic (electoral votes)
Michigan – 16
Wisconsin – 10
Nevada – 6
Pennsylvania – 20
Leans Republican but trending Democratic
Arizona – 11
Georgia – 16
North Carolina – 15
(District 1) Nebraska – 1
Florida – 29
(District 1) Maine – 1
*We don’t consider Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, or Minnesota swing states anymore.
N.B: Electoral numbers per state may change slightly based on the 2020 Census. However, the above states should still represent 120 to 130 of the 528 electors. For now, and for purposes of simplicity, we’ll assume the net gain for Democrats and Republicans will be zero.
Heading into 2024, there’s a good chance that roughly 413 electors will be pre-determined. Hence, we can safely assume some states, like California, Maryland and Vermont will support the Democratic candidate while other states, such as Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Tennessee, will opt for the Republican candidate.
In the end, what happens with the remaining 125 electors will likely determine the presidency. To win in 2024, the Democratic candidate would need 44 of the outstanding 125 electoral votes and the Republican candidate would need 83.
Who does this benefit?
Answer: Democrats – And not only because 44 is less than 83.
Left-leaners: PA, WI, MI, and NV
Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by the skin of his teeth in 2016, but Biden flipped those states by greater margins in 2020 as they reverted to their ideological norms. Moreover, Democrat Barack Obama easily carried all of those states twice, in 2008 and 2012.
Trump didn’t win those states in 2016 because he was popular there; He won them because Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, was largely unpopular among independents and left-leaning moderates who, consequentially, opted for a third-party candidate in high numbers or simply stayed home on Election Day.
In each of those states in 2016, more people voted against Trump than for him. He benefitted because the Democratic vote was split between Clinton and third-party candidates.
Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are left-leaning purple states, and a Biden win in each of those commonwealths, alone, would give him 272 electoral votes – two more than what is needed to win the presidency. And when Nevada, also a left-leaning purple state, is included, Biden amasses 278 electoral votes even if he losses the remainder of the swing states Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida)
Like it or not, the aforementioned purple states have a left tilt so the Republican nominee can only win them if she/he is amenable to many Democrats or if the Democratic candidate is unpopular within her/his party.
More GOP Concerns: Trending Purple States
Even if Wisconsin, the least liberal of the left-leaning purple states, were to turn red in 2024 Republicans would have to worry about securing Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. For now, we’ll call them right-leaning purple states, but they are trending blue in presidential elections. And by 2024, any or all of them could have a harder blue lean versus 2020.
Biden narrowly carried Arizona and Georgia in 2020; two previously red states that were projected to be very close and seem to be following the path of Virginia, a reliably GOP stronghold for decades until 2008.
How blue is Virginia today? Trump made no attempt to campaign there in 2020 and lost by double digits. Hence, he could have narrowed the gap a bit but the state was too far outreach for Team Trump to win.
If Biden gets his numbers up by election time, he may very well be the favorite to win Arizona and Georgia in 2024.
Will Arizona and Georgia follow Virginia’s trend?
In 2004, 2008, and 2012, Republicans George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain comfortably won the Grand Canyon State by 10.5, 8, and 9 percentage points, respectively. But in 2016, Trump carried Arizona by only 3.5 percentage points before losing it outright in 2020. Combine that metrics trend with the fact both of its recently-elected U.S. Senators (Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly) are Democrats and it’s easy to see what direction the state might be headed.
And yes, even North Carolina is trending Tarheel blue. In 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush carried the state by about 13 points each time before Obama, a Democrat, scored an upset win there in 2008. And while Trump carried North Carolina in 2016 by 3.5 percent, his margin of victory in 2020 was just 1.4 percent in 2020. Another such dip would cost the GOP the state in 2024.
And let’s not forget, North Carolina also re-elected its Democratic governor in 2020. Although the state leans right, it’s not nearly as beholden to the GOP as in years past.
Republicans easily won in Georgia in 2000 (by 11%), 2004 (by 16%), 2008 (by 5%), and 2012 (by 8%); But in 2016, Democrats narrowed Trump’s victory there to just 5 percent before scoring the upset in 2020.
And keep in mind, Stacey Abrams came with 1.4 percentage points of defeating popular candidate Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial race in 2018.
The very competitive 2018 gubernatorial race, GOP presidential candidates’ declining numbers over the years, Biden’s upset win in 2020 in the Peach State, and the recent Democratic senatorial sweep in the January’s runoff races are, perhaps, an indication of things to come in Georgia.
Pew Research Center survey data shows that Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans are more likely to vote Democratic while Whites are narrowly aligned with the Republican Party.
No surprise there.
And while non-White voters already play a significant role in driving the nation’s electorate, expect them to play an even greater role in 2024, even if immigration continues to be curbed.
Hispanics are, by far, the youngest major racial or ethnic group in the United States. In fact, Pew found that nearly six-in-ten Hispanics are Millennials or younger. And even Blacks, as a race, are much younger than Whites who, as the above graph illustrates, represent the oldest racial or ethnic group.
Moreover, we can safely say Cuban (Hispanic) Americans, who lean conservative, represent just a sliver of Latino Americans in the U.S. That’s bad news for Republicans whose ‘bread and butter’ supporters are Whites and, of far lesser consequence, Cuban Americans.
By 2028 or sooner, the GOP may have difficulty competing in presidential races if it doesn’t start appealing to more minorities.
Texas, for example, the jewel of the Republican Party in presidential elections, might be somewhat safe for the GOP in 2024 but is also trending blue and looking to be in play in 2028.
In the 2020 election, Republicans made mildly impressive gains among Hispanic and Black men. Those trends must continue if they plan to stem the impending blue tide.
2024 United States Presidential Election Prediction: Biden
Again, a lot can happen by 2024 and the presidency is well within reach for both parties. Barring any momentous incidents, my early pick, based on pure trends and nothing more, is Joe Biden. Should he decide to not seek re-election, things get a bit more complicated so that is a topic for another article.
Let’s not forget that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had unfavorable approval ratings in their sophomore years as president yet managed to cruise to re-election victories.
What to Look For Presidential Approval Rating
If Biden enters the 2024 race with a “consensus” approval rating of at least 50 percent, a number Trump failed to reach throughout his presidency sans one very GOP-friendly pollster, he will be very difficult to beat regardless of who the Republican nominee is.
Per Gallup, incumbent presidents with approval ratings of 50 percent or greater during Election Week tend to win: Barack Obama (51%) George W. Bush (53%), Bill Clinton (56%), Ronald Reagan (58%), and Richard Nixon (60%).
And presidents seeking re-election with approval ratings lower than 50 percent tend to lose: Gerald Ford (49%), Jimmy Carter (33%), George H.W. Bush (40%), and Donald Trump (46%).
If Biden’s approval rating from an aggregate of top pollsters is 50 percent or greater during Election Week 2024, he should be a very strong favorite to win based on the ideologic and demographic trends of the country.
Please share your thoughts on the 2024 Presidential Election.