The last time I had an article published in The Canberra Times on US politics was eight days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, on January 12, 2017. The article was titled "Undemocratic anachronism" and reported on the November 2016 elections, both the popular vote and the real contest in the electoral college.
I asked this question: "How can Americans tolerate such a dud system?" and gave a vague answer to the effect that there would be reform some day.
Two paragraphs from that article are worth repeating. The first was: "This is a truly horrible system. Hillary Clinton was incredibly - repeat incredibly - unlucky. Trump was very good at gaming the system."
The second was: "Many commentators see a likeness between Trump and Brexit. I couldn't disagree more." There followed my prediction that Brexit would be seen by historians as a permanent majority decision - never to be reversed - but Trump's presidency would be seen as an aberration because he would be a one-term minority president.
American electoral authorities take an incredibly long time to finalise their election statistics. Consequently, the statistics I gave in that article need revision. Here are the final popular votes: 65,853,652 (48.2 per cent) for Clinton, 62,985,134 (46.1 per cent) for Trump and 7,830,410 (5.7 per cent) for all the others combined.
The American voting system is "first past the post". So, for analytical purposes most psephologists regard the 7,830,410 "other" vote as having been thrown in the rubbish bin. That means the two-candidate percentages are 51.1 for Clinton and 48.9 for Trump.
On March 23 this year I wrote an article for my own website titled "Trump won't have a second term but ScoMo will". The title tells the story. I had decided in mid-March that Trump was not competitive and historians would record the situation that way.
My article prompted the expected response: all manner of "wise" respondents asserted that only a fool would write Trump off like that. They quoted the betting odds at the time, which strongly favoured Trump.
So, I decided to double down on my prediction. Let's start by looking at the states Clinton won, in order of the size of the win, and showing her cumulative total in the electoral college to that point.
Her biggest win was in the District of Columbia with three electoral votes. Her biggest state win was Hawaii with four electoral votes. That's seven thus far.
Clinton's biggest win in a big state was in California, which has 55 electoral votes. Now we're at 62. Add in the other Clinton states in order of strength (Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Washington, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Oregon, Delaware, New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Minnesota and New Hampshire) and the cumulative Clinton vote rises to 232, 38 votes fewer than the 270 she needed to win.
Here is the critical part - and here is where my confident prediction comes in. The weakest Trump state was Michigan, with 16 electoral votes, followed by Pennsylvania with 20, then Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia (for Trump to lose Georgia in 2020 it needs a swing of only 2.7 per cent). I forecast Biden will win all of those, plus the Clinton states.
There's also a peculiarity in Nebraska, a staunchly Republican rural state. Trump will prevail there, obviously. But Nebraska awards two votes for the state as a whole and one for each of its three congressional districts. Two are among the most rural in the country, however the second district is the city of Omaha, with a sizeable Democratic vote. Barack Obama won it in 2008, Mitt Romney took it back in 2012, and Trump only narrowly won it in 2016. In 2020 I predict it will be won by Biden.
Add the votes from these states to Clinton's 232, and you've got 350 electoral votes for Biden, to just 188 for Trump. No one would dispute the word "landslide" applies to such a result.
A 54 per cent national two-candidate result for Biden, which is fully consistent with all of the opinion polls taken since I made my prediction earlier this year, would give him the 350 votes forecast. I would not be surprised if he won more.
I began this article by writing about the electoral college, that "undemocratic anachronism" of the US constitution. What will happen to it?
I regret to say as much - but there will be no reform. This election will produce a result so full of legitimacy for American democracy that the electoral college will regain the trust of the public - and be accepted by both the Democratic and Republican parties.
These institutions are very difficult to change. The US constitution is frozen - as difficult to change as its Australian counterpart.
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