The 59th presidential election will take place on November 3, 2020. 108 days from today.

The Democratic Primary

28 individuals announced their desire to seek the Democratic nomination for president. [See April 24, 2020 Washington Watch for the complete list.]

Joe Biden (D) former Vice President, former U.S. Senator, Age 77 secured the nomination on June 6, 2020.

While Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign, Biden has agreed that he may hold the delegates he won through the Democratic convention,

Biden and Sanders have created joint task forces/working groups to advise the Biden campaign on six key policy areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, economy, education, health care and immigration.

After weeks of negotiations they have produced a 110-page document.

Biden commended the task forces “for their service and helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country. And I am deeply grateful to Sen. Sanders for working together to unite our party, and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come.”

“Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country,” Sanders said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice.”

The Democratic convention has been rescheduled from July to August and it will be held virtually with a limited number of delegates in Milwaukee and perhaps some satellite sites. Joe Biden will accept the nomination in Milwaukee.

Selecting a Vice Presidential Nominee

The following is a list of candidates from whom various commentators think that Joe Biden will select his running mate. The original list had 19 people. With one recently added, Karen Bass, there are now 11 people still on the list.

The person selected to be Biden’s vice-presidential running mate should be qualified to be president at any time after the 2021 inaugural.

Kamala Harris – U.S. Senator from California – Age 55
Michelle Lujan Grisham – Governor of New Mexico – Age 50
Gretchen Whitmer – Governor of Michigan – Age 48
Tammy Baldwin – U.S Senator from Wisconsin – Age 58
Tammy Duckworth – U.S. Senator from Illinois – Age 52
Elizabeth Warren – U.S. Senator from Massachusetts – Age 70
Val Demings – U.S Representative from Florida – Age 63
Karen Bass – U.S. Representative from California – Age 66
Susan Rice – National Security Advisor to Obama – 2013-2017 – Age 55
Stacey Abrams – Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate – 2018 – Age 46
Keisha Lance Bottoms – Mayor of Atlanta – since 2018 – Age 50

The odds

Kamala Harris -125 2/3
Susan Rice +350 3.5/1
Val Demings +1000 10/1
Karen Bass +5000
Elizabeth Warren +1600 16/1
Keisha Lance Bottoms +2800
Stacey Abrams +4000
Lujan Grisham +3300
Tammy Duckworth +350
Tammy Baldwin +6600

Republican Primary


Donald Trump – President – Age 74

Many Republican primaries and caucuses have been canceled.

The Republican nominating convention is scheduled for August 24-27, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. The Republican party withdrew from its original destination selection, Charlotte, North Carolina alone when Governor Cooper (Dem) refused to guarantee that the assemblage could meet without “social distancing.”
The Republican National Committee will hold its annual summer meeting in Charlotte the weekend before the start of the convention.

The convention will begin with a single day, August 24, in Charlotte. On that day roughly 336 delegates (6 delegates from each state and territory casting proxy votes for the other delegates) will conduct the convention’s official business including the re-nomination the President and Vice President. These delegates will then likely depart that night for Jacksonville.

A total of about 2,500 delegates will then meet in Jacksonville for three days of speeches and celebrations.

In anticipation of the convention the Republicans organizing the convention have announced that each person entering the convention site will have their temperature taken. It remains to be seen whether a typical looking convention can be held in Florida in August.

Most recently there have been discussions of having the event in an open-air facility.

The General Election

On July 2, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court in a unanimous decision upheld state laws that remove or fine Electoral College delegates who refuse to cast their votes for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.

Twice in the past two decades the winner of the popular vote did not become president. Hillary Clinton got more votes than Donald Trump and Al Gore won more votes than George W. Bush. In 2016, three Democratic delegates in Washington voted for Colin Powell. One Republican delegate tried to vote for Ohio Governor John Kasich. [NPR 7/6/20]

September 13th

It is possible that the first general election vote for President in 2020 may be cast as early as September 13, 2020, 50 days before the 2020 presidential election on November 3, 2020.

The state with potential voting 50 days before the election is Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania does not offer early voting, but counties may make mail ballots available to voters in person up to 50 days before Election Day.

While absentee ballots are supposed to be sent through the mail, there is a way to use them to vote in person:

  • Voters can apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot in person at a county elections office beginning 50 days before an election.
  • Those voters may request to have their application processed immediately and receive a ballot on the spot.
  • Elections officials must provide an opportunity for those voters to secretly fill out their ballot.
  • Voters can then hand over their filled-out ballot on that day.

Thirty-seven states have early voting ranging from 5 – 50 days.

5 – 10 days 5 states
11 – 19 days 13 states
20 – 29 days 8 states
30 – 39 days 3 states
40 – 49 days 7 states
50 days 1 state

The state with early voting for only 5 days before the election is Oklahoma.

Nine states do not have early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

North Dakota is the only state in the United States that does not require voters to be registered in advance of elections.

There are a number of sites that offer registration and turnout information by state. WW has found vote.org to be very useful.

Here is where the general election for President stands as of July 14, 2020.

Trump Biden
Econ/YouGov 7/14 40% 49% RV
The Hill/HarrisX 7/4 39% 43% RV
Monmouth 6/30 41% 53% RV
USA Today 6/29 41% 53% RV
NPR/PBS 6/24 44% 52% RV
YouGov 6/23 41% 49% RV
CNBC 6/22 38% 47% RV
NYT/Siena 6/22 36% 50% RV
Fox News 6/16 38% 50% RV
Quinnipiac 6/15 41% 49% RV

The upcoming presidential election is not in reality a national election.

There is a group of states on which the results of the election will hang, the so-called battleground or toss-up states. Depending on the source of the list there may be as many as fifteen states in the group or as few as four. Here are the lists:

15 states 12 states 6 states 4 states
Arizona Arizona Arizona
Florida Florida Florida Florida
Georgia Georgia
Iowa Iowa
Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan
Nebraska (2dist)
Nevada Nevada
New Hampshire New Hampshire
North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina
Ohio Ohio
Pennsylvania Pennslvania Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
Texas Texas
Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin

WW is focused on the list of six states as most likely being the ultimate battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Trump Biden    
Arizona 44.40% 47.20% 7/10 RCP Avg
Florida 42.80% 48.00% 7/10 RCP Avg
Michigan 40.50% 48.00% 6/28 RCP Avg
North Carolina 44.20% 47.50% 7/8 RCP Avg
42.00% 48.50% 7/2 RCP Avg
Wisconsin 42.00% 48.50% 6/28 RCP Avg

Mail-in Voting

All of the states on the list of 12—except Texas—and therefore all of the states on the list of six and the list of four, do not require voters to have a specific reason in order to be eligible to vote by mail. Texas requires voters to have a particular reason (elderly, disabled, etc) for requesting a mail-in ballot.

The states in the list of six have the following requirements for requesting and returning mail-in ballots.

Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have on-line access to request mail-in ballots. Florida and North Carolina allow requests to be made by email.

All six states require that the voter sign the ballot. Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania require no witness to the voter’s signature. North Carolina and Wisconsin require a witness.

Of the six states, only Wisconsin requires that the ballots be returned through the U.S. mail. The other five states provide physical locations where the ballots can be turned in as well as by mail. Arizona plus some places in Michigan pay the postage the other states require the voters to pay.

Effect on Party Performance

The president and others in the GOP claim that voting by mail favors Democrats.

“Numerous studies have arrived at the same conclusion: Voting by mail doesn’t provide any clear partisan advantage. In fact, as states have expanded their use of mailed ballots over the last decade — including five states that conduct all-mail elections by default — both parties have enjoyed a small but equal increase in turnout.” [FiveThirtyEight 5/12 2020]

Election Integrity

Online misinformation and statements by the President are already spreading the false idea that vote by mail increases the likelihood of voter fraud.

“According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, there is no evidence that mail balloting increases electoral fraud as there are several anti-fraud protections built into the process designed to make it difficult to impersonate voters or steal ballots. These provisions include requiring people requesting absentee ballots to be registered voters, mailing ballots to the official address listed on voter registration rolls, requiring voter signatures on the external envelope, and having election authorities make sure the ballot came from the address of an actual voter.” [Policy 2020 Brookings 6/22/20]

40% of registered voters are favorable in their feelings toward the President while 56% have unfavorable feelings toward him.

Notably, those with “very unfavorable” feelings (50%) exceed the number who are “very favorable” toward the President (27%).

56% have favorable feelings toward Joe Biden while 42% have negative feelings toward him. Those with “very unfavorable” feelings (27%) are equal to the number who are “very favorable” toward Biden (26%). [NYT/Siena 6/22/20]

Joe Biden’s negative favorability numbers aren’t as bad as Hillary Clinton’s were at this time in 2016 and Donald Trump’s numbers are better than his numbers were in 2016.

  June 2016     June 2020  
  Fav Unfav     Fav Unfav  
33% 55% (-22) Biden 37% 38% (-1)
Trump 29% 60% (-31) Trump 40% 51% (-11)

Angry, Exhausted, Hopeful: How different kinds of voters are feeling

Among Biden Supporters   Among Trump Supporters
81% 18-34 45%
76% 35-49 46%
74% 50-64 40%
68% 65+ 52%
88% 18-34 43%
86% 35-49 43%
79% 50-64 45%
69% 65+ 39%
59% 18-34 86%
58% 35-49 76%
57% 50-64 81%
59% 65+ 82%

[NYT/Siena 6/22-NYT 6/28/20]

200 George W. Bush administration officials have formed a Super PAC called “43 Alumni for Biden”, to support Biden’s presidential campaign. [Ballotpedia 7/2/20]

What are the odds?

Here are the odds if you want to place a bet on the 2020 presidential election as of 7/12/2020.

Joe Biden -160 (Better needs to bet $160 to win $100. If it is a winning bet the better ends up with $260.)
Donald Trump +130 (Better needs to bet $130 to win $100. A winning bet ends up with the better receiving $230.)