To win, a candidate needs at least 270 Electoral College votes.
O’Malley Dillon pointed out that Biden is within striking distance in Republican-heavy Georgia and Texas.
It’s not just battleground state polling that has Biden’s campaign swaggering.
Biden leads Trump nationally in most recent public surveys. And the internals of the polls have other “core problems that Trump has” particularly, but not solely, with female voters.
“We have seen recent polling that has the vice president running 15 percentage points better with seniors than Democrats did in 2016,” she said of this crucial demographic, which reliably votes and often leans Republican. And when it comes to non-college-educated voters, Trump’s advantage has dropped from 39 points in 2016 to 24 points today, she said.
The Trump campaign has watched Biden pull or stay ahead, and last week it announced plans to launch a negative ad onslaught to drag down the Democrat’s numbers.
In a statement, the Trump campaign mocked Biden as being unable to “put on a simple webcast without catastrophic technical failures.”
“So it’s hilarious that he thinks he can command an organized national campaign. … Americans know that President Trump has been leading the nation in fighting the coronavirus and they also know that Joe Biden has been nothing but a political crank, lobbing counterproductive criticisms from his basement bunker,” the Trump campaign said.
O’Malley Dillon emphasized that the Biden campaign is not taking the polls for granted — something Hillary Clinton’s campaign was accused of doing in her upset loss to Trump in 2016 — and is growing its staff and increasing its digital outreach as it figures out how to operate in “the New World Order of Covid-19.” By June, the campaign plans to have 600 field organizers for battleground states, she said.
While the Biden campaign says the former vice president’s advantage is partly rooted in his name brand, his advisers acknowledge that the biggest factor in the election is Trump, who is more disfavored than favored in polls and who hasn’t been able to increasing his standing during the crisis, in contrast with most governors, who have seen their approval numbers rise.
“One thing that’s a fact of life in this campaign is Donald Trump carries a very unfavorable rating in the mid-to-high 40s,” senior Biden adviser Mike Donilon said, calling the president’s approval ratings “the single biggest driver” of the campaign’s dynamics.
The data-driven presentation from the campaign served as a rebuttal to critics like former advisers to former President Barack Obama, who recently expressed concern in The New York Times about how Biden is virtually campaigning from home during the pandemic. Progressive critics as well as conservatives have weighed in with varying levels of concern and mockery as well, especially on social media.
The campaign, however, said Biden is being strategic with his virtual campaigning and is stepping up local media interviews while the campaign doubles its digital operation to reach more voters online. O’Malley Dillon said Biden’s campaign is also outspending Trump’s on social media, a sign of the Democrat’s improved fundraising.
Donilon rejected the critics, especially those who fretted that Trump was occupying the spotlight by holding nationally watched television briefings while Biden was webcasting from home.
The content of Trump’s briefings, however, ultimately made things worse for the president, Donilon said, obliquely referencing the president’s musings about injecting bleach as a coronavirus cure.
“People have seen him. They heard him,” Donilon said. “They’ve seen first of all him, pushing aside the experts on this issue they care a lot about. They’ve seen him put forward some dangerous ideas, they know are really sort of scary.”
But in 2016, Clinton’s campaign bet on Trump’s controversial statements to cost him on Election Day and similarly pointed to battleground state polls showing her ahead, albeit within the error margin, where Biden polls today.
Donilon said, though, that Trump is now president. And as an incumbent, he should be marginally winning.
“He’s the incumbent. He’s the sitting president of the United States. He’s the sitting president of the United States at a time of a national crisis. That’s where we are. And he’s losing,” Donilon said. “Go to Florida, Florida state, in which he’s got a real problem. And there’s a real chance he’s gonna lose it.”
A Florida loss for Trump, considering the polling and the vagaries of the Electoral College, would cost him reelection. The president recently moved his home address to the state and his top surrogates say it’s a must-win. He won it by just over a percentage point in 2016, when he swept Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than a point.
Unlike Trump’s team, Biden’s believes its candidate doesn’t need to win Florida. But it’s focusing more on the state as a kill shot as it looks to nontraditional swing states to get a boost.
“I am bullish about Arizona,” O’Malley Dillon said.