The numbers aren’t close. Aggregate polling numbers from FiveThirtyEight show Joe Biden with a 7.5-point lead over President Donald Trump in November’s election, a wider and more steady advantage than what Hillary Clinton held in 2016.
The news cycle doesn’t do Trump any favors. No matter how much he insists the protests and violence taking place are “Biden’s America,” it is happening after nearly four year of Trump. The economy is rebounding, but still far below pre-pandemic levels.
It’s pretty clear who holds the lead in this election, and it leaves some to wonder why this campaign still matters. Hasn’t everyone already made up their minds? Is there really room to pick up votes?
There is still room for change and uncertainty in this election. The campaign is not as much about a choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump; it’s a choice between not voting at all, or voting for one of the candidates.
For those engaged in politics and ready to vote, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where they are torn between Biden and Trump. If you pay enough attention to know the issues, you inevitably are already on one side of the spectrum or the other. There’s a reason why the trope of the swing voter is viewed with such disdain — it seems almost mythical.
But that doesn’t mean there are no voters left to persuade. This campaign is now a race of enthusiasm, and the winner will be whoever drives out the vote more. The deciding choice is not Biden or Trump — it’s voting for Biden or not voting, or voting for Trump or not voting.
That’s why this campaign still matters, and why events like the DNC and RNC can make real change. The apparent goal of the RNC — and the rest of the campaign — for Trump is to humanize him as a candidate; give voters the impression of empathy, despite his wilder policies and tweets.
That strategy may work. If the choice is between voting for Trump or not voting at all, the difference is not going to be policy — it will be personality. Biden, for better or for worse, has painted himself as the consoler in chief and master of empathy.
Voters can get behind a nice guy. Can they get behind a mean guy? Ask Chris Christie about the 2016 primary.
For this reason, there is still time to turn things around for Trump, and the campaign still matters for both of them. No matter how locked in each party’s base is, there is still a large proportion of voters that aren’t motivated enough to vote. Motivating and mobilizing that demographic more than the other candidate will be key for this campaign.
And for Trump, the key to that mobilization is empathy. So far in this race, he has failed to stick to that strategy.
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