Joe Biden
Joe Biden (Image: AP/Andrew Harnik)

In the anxious days before the United States election, Joe Biden maintains a healthy polling lead that, thanks to the shock of 2016, many aren’t ready to believe.

Of course, there’s still a chance Donald Trump could rev up his base in the coming days, and stitch together an electoral college majority by threading the needle through the swing states that narrowly voted for him in 2016.

But there’s another possibility.

If Biden’s polling lead holds, or if he over-performs, we could be looking at a Democratic landslide. While the Trump campaign is desperate to hold the rust belt like it did in 2016, there are plenty of traditionally red states where Biden has a good chance at winning, thanks to shifting demographics and the president’s raw unpopularity.

Arizona

Bill Clinton’s win in 1996 is the only time Democrats have won Arizona in the past 60 years. But Biden is up between two and four points on Trump heading into the final stretch. Democrats have good reason to be optimistic. The state is getting younger and more Latino, Trump didn’t win it by much in 2016, and more importantly, the Dems scored a historic Senate victory there two years ago.

Then there’s the pandemic. Nearly 6000 Arizonans died from COVID-19, making it one of the worst-affected states. Trump’s poor handling of the pandemic has damaged him politically among the state’s large population of older voters.

North Carolina

North Carolina shouldn’t be a worry for Trump, but it is. He’s trailing Biden by about two points. Like other purpling states, North Carolina is undergoing a demographic shift — getting younger, more diverse and urban.

And there’s been strong early turnout, particularly among younger voters.

Democrats are desperate to continue high voting numbers — the state is just as crucial to their chances of flipping the Senate as it is to winning the White House. For the Trump campaign, already walking an electoral college tightrope, holding onto North Carolina is key.

Georgia

Reliably red Georgia is another place the Trump campaign shouldn’t be fighting to defend.

But Biden and Trump have been virtually neck and neck.

Like North Carolina, Georgia is more urban, populated and diverse than four years ago. And Trump’s lead among non-college educated white voters has fallen.

The Atlanta suburbs, once Republican strongholds, are turning on Trump. So far, historic voter turnout, particularly among black voters and first-time voters could be a big boost for Biden’s chances. A Democratic win in Georgia, which hasn’t happened since 1992, would be a momentous sign that the GOP’s generational lock on the South is starting to disintegrate.

In the eternal words of the state’s most famous son, André 3000, “the south got something to say”.

Texas

It couldn’t, could it?

Texas, which has been Republican since Jimmy Carter in 1976, is now rated a “toss-up”. But could it go blue?

For years, we’ve heard that the Lone Star state is changing in ways that could make it a political bellwether. And that was before Trump’s divisiveness accelerated things.

Democratic strategists thought 2024 would be their year — when enough immigrants and their children had naturalised or reached 18, and more movers from bluer states had arrived to coalesce into an election-winning constituency.

Now there’s a sense of very cautious optimism. Then again, we’ve been here before. There were whispers about Hillary Clinton pulling off a miracle in Texas. She did not.

Two years ago, Beto O’Rourke raised huge funds and generated fawning media coverage, but still narrowly lost his Senate race to Ted Cruz.

Still, with record turnout expected, Texas Democrats have every right to head into Tuesday with clear eyes and full hearts.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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