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Analysis: Why Trump could face a Jimmy Carter scenario

October 25, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The last president facing re-election troubles like Donald Trump's was Jimmy Carter in 1980. Injured by recession and impotent against a national crisis, Carter lost big.

Today, Trump's national polling deficit of around 10 percentage points matches Carter's popular vote deficit against Ronald Reagan -- who won a 44-state landslide while fellow Republicans seized control of the Senate.

Yet, just over a week from Election Day, few political analysts are prepared to say that points toward overwhelming defeat for Trump and his party on November 3, for three reasons.

In 2016, Trump captured a larger share of electoral votes while suffering a larger two-point defeat in the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

This year, the contours of individual battlegrounds mean Trump would have a fighting chance for re-election even if he loses the popular vote by twice that much.

The 2018 mid-term elections, when antipathy toward Trump and his policies gave Democrats a clear overall edge, proved the point.

Of course, there's no guarantee that errors would underestimate Trump's support now; in President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, polls underestimated his margin of victory in key states.

Wasserman has also calculated what the national standing of Biden and Trump among key demographic groups, if it held across battleground states, would imply for the outcome.

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