Before the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump enjoyed strong reelection odds, despite a tenure marred by controversy. Unemployment was at decade lows, stocks were at record highs and consumers felt good.
The pandemic and consequent recession could cost Trump at least 100 electoral votes—and the election—according to a new forecast by Moody’s Analytics. In February, before the pandemic metastasized in the United States, the firm’s election model forecast Trump would win reelection with 336 electoral votes, to 202 electoral votes for his Democratic challenger. That would have been a better Trump performance than in 2016, when he beat Hillary Clinton with 306 electoral votes. In addition to all the states he won in 2016, Trump would have flipped Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Virginia.
But now, with the unemployment rate up from 3.5% in February to 11.1% in June, Trump is an underdog who could lose in a landslide in November. Moody’s now forecasts that Democrat Joe Biden will win with 308 electoral votes, to 230 for Trump, if turnout is around average for a presidential election. If turnout is high, like it was in the 2018 midterm elections, Biden could win with 352 electoral votes, to 186 for Trump. It takes 270 electoral votes to win.
Six swing states—Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona—are crucial to the outcome in November. Trump won all of those in 2016, clinching the win. In the Moody’s average-turnout model, Trump wins North Carolina and Arizona, while Biden wins the other four. In the high-turnout model, Biden wins all 6, plus Ohio.