Though Trump's Electoral College advantage is real and the fundamental accuracy of polls always in question, Biden's wide national lead is increasingly reflected in "swing state" surveys and the president's chances are "dwindling" every day, says statistician Nate Silver. Trump's nasty, belligerent performance in the first debate showed how he plans to stay in power: delegitimize the election, hope his Supreme Court picks help him out, and to have his most violent supporters standing back and standing by for action. Silver explains that there is no polling that can account for these things and we are heading into great danger.
Our forecast assumes that the election is free and fair — at least to the extent that past elections that we used to train the model were free and fair. (Throughout American history, there has always been plenty of voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement.)
But for now, let me advance a few propositions:
— Even a small probability that the U.S. could become a failed or manifestly undemocratic state is worth taking seriously.
— There are a wide range of things that Trump could attempt to do, many of which would be quite damaging to the country, but they are not necessarily equally likely to succeed.
— Trump's actions are much more likely to actually change the result of the election if the outcome is close, and right now, the most likely scenario is that Biden wins by a not-so-close margin.