USA: With just two weeks left to the much anticipated US presidential elections, preliminary results indicate that democratic challenger Joe Biden is taking an early lead in national polling against incumbent Republican President Donald Trump from millions of Americans who are casting early ballots.
However, this doesn’t guarantee the Democratic candidate victory, Hillary Clinton also had a clear lead over Trump in the polls for almost the entire 2016 campaign but she ended up losing in the electoral college.
Because the presidential voting system assigns each state a number of electoral college votes, which go to the state’s victor regardless of the margin of victory, a handful of swing states will probably decide the election and be targeted heavily by campaigners.
Poll aggregators show Biden, the former vice president and a fixture on the U.S. political scene for nearly a half-century, with a 9- or 10-percentage point lead nationally and perhaps half that lead in key battleground states that will determine the outcome
Already, there has been unprecedented early voting in the U.S, with nearly 28 million people having cast ballots, either in person or by mail. The figure is equivalent to about 20% of the total vote count when Trump edged Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and another 30% could vote on the official Election Day.
Meanwhile, some Democrats have said their early voting motivation was to be among the first to vote to oust Trump, while other political analysts say a majority of Republicans have declared their intention to vote in person on Election Day, as it is the tradition in the U.S.
Based on the polling, some news organizations are already predicting that Biden will become the country’s 46th president on the Jan. 20 inauguration day and its oldest at 78. An election loss would make Trump, a real estate entrepreneur and reality show host turned politician, the third incumbent U.S. president in the last four decades to lose his reelection contest for a second four-year term.
Trump also trailed in the polls heading into the last election, but then scored an upset following intense campaigning in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The polling website FiveThirtyEight.com reported that 40,000 computerized simulations of the election show Biden winning 88 times in 100 possible scenarios considering prospective voter turnout, historical trends and recent election performance in the country’s 50 states.
Other news sites are already suggesting that Biden is ahead in enough key battleground states to amass more than the majority 270 of the 538 electoral votes needed to win the presidency in the Electoral College, the U.S. system of indirect democracy.
Trump and Biden have campaigned extensively in battleground states in recent days ahead of Thursday’s second and last debate between the two in Nashville, Tennessee. Trump headed Monday to two campaign stops in the southwestern state of Arizona, which he won in 2016 but now narrowly trails Biden in polling there.
Four years ago, Trump lost the national popular vote to Clinton by about 2%, nearly 3 million votes, while winning the election because he narrowly won the vote in three northern states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — that traditionally had been carried by Democrats. In the Electoral College, Trump collected all the electoral votes in those three states — and the presidency.
Current state-by-state polling is not predicting any Trump wins in states carried by Clinton in 2016, while Biden has small polling advantages in several states Trump won, including the three that carried him to the White House, along with others where the outcome is in doubt.
Trump, 74, continues to predict himself as the winner. But last week, at a campaign stop in the southern state of Georgia, he pondered the possibility of losing to Biden.
“Could you imagine if I lose?” he said. “I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.” In other states, Trump said, and further told voters he won’t return to see them again if they don’t carry the vote for him.