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Eileen McClelland

Political Forecaster Charlie Cook Tells JA National Convention Audience That November Election Will Be a Nail-Biter

But he sees Trump as ‘a tiny bit of an underdog.’

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CHARLIE COOK, EDITOR and publisher of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, suggested that Democrats have a one in three chance of scoring a political trifecta in the 2020 national election, keeping the U.S. House of Representatives majority, overthrowing the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, and electing Democratic presumptive candidate Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in a nail-biter of a presidential race.

Cook, a political forecaster who has been called “the Picasso of election analysis” by the Wall Street Journal, was a featured speaker in the Jewelers of America Virtual National Convention, which continues today and Thursday.

Cook stressed how close the presidential race is likely to be.

Prior to 2000, he said, presidential races tended to be close as well; the difference was that the popular vote and Electoral College always had gone in the same direction.

But since then, because of increasingly polarizing divides in the Democrat and Republican parties, there are fewer voters occupying a middle ground, while Republican voters are more efficiently allocated around the country to make a bigger impact in the Electoral College than Democratic voters. Swing voters are few and far between.

Trump lost the popular election to Hillary Clinton by 2.1 points in 2016. In order for Biden to win in 2020, Cook says, Biden would have to lead the popular vote by as many as 3 or 4 percentage points.

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In November, six states will be crucial battlegrounds, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.

Despite the country’s precipitous fall into a “deep, deep” recession and global pandemic, economic setbacks are no guarantee anymore that an incumbent president will be voted out of office, because more people today vote on social and cultural identity issues, such as abortion, health care philosophy and gun control.

“His number won’t drop like other presidents in the past would have,” Cook says. “We were looking at a very, very close race before the economy turned down and we’re still looking at a very, very close race.” While Trump is still getting residual credit for his handling of the economy, an important question is how long of a “shelf life” does that credit have.

His hardcore support stays put at about 40 percent while his bedrock opposition remains steady at about 45 percent. “Those numbers are not ever going to drop much for Trump. If they’ve made it this far, they’re not going anywhere.”

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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