Election Day is finally here, so let’s see how well a few Utah Politico Hub contributors can prognosticate. Answers from Beau Sorensen, Bob Aagard, and John English.
1. Who will win the 2020 presidential election and by how much?
SORENSEN: Despite all the handwringing about what will happen if Donald Trump loses by a little, in the end it was much ado about nothing. Joe Biden takes back states that had turned red in 2016 (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan) and flips a few others (Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida). This gives Biden plenty of room to insist upon an entirely ordinary transfer of power. The bigger question is with Utah – what happens here? While Trump still wins the state, the margin is lower than in 2016, even without Evan McMullin in the mix. He gets over 50%, but it’s a slim (for Utah) margin of 53-47.
AAGARD: Biden wins the popular vote 50-46. Biden wins 290 Electors.
ENGLISH: The most likely scenario I see is 319 to 219 for Joe Biden, but I could see Florida ultimately swinging Trump’s way to make it 290-248. Biden wins the popular vote 50.7%-46.4%, a slight improvement for Trump’s percentage but this will be due to a decline in third-party voting from 2016. Voters seem more determined for a clear top-two pick this time around. Under this scenario I see Biden winning every state Clinton won but also picking up Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. I do think the squeakers predicted in North Carolina and Georgia will ultimately remain red.
2. Who will win the hotly contested Ben McAdams-Burgess Owens contest?
SORENSEN: Ben McAdams will win by more than expected. A lot of money has gone into this race, but Owens is not as strong of a candidate as Mia Love was, and when you add the negative sentiment against Republicans that has been rising, McAdams will win by enough that Republicans are going to try and gerrymander the ever-loving heck out of CD4 to get him out.
AAGARD: McAdams win 50-48.
ENGLISH: Mia Love lost by less than 1000 votes. Under normal circumstances, this should be an easy seat for the GOP to reclaim, but is Burgess Owens’ popularity on Fox News enough to convince the locals he knows the ins and outs of CD4? Will the barrage of negative ads change any minds? I don’t think so. McAdams barely retains. Bryan Schott tweets a monocle emoji. In the other races, Blake Moore, Chris Stewart, and John Curtis win handily.
3. What surprises do you anticipate in the Utah state senate and house elections?
SORENSEN: The negative coattails from up-ballot end up taking out a total of a half dozen candidates, but it’s not enough for Utah
Republicans to lose their supermajority. It’s also not enough for us to stop talking about how everyone who is to the left of Francisco Franco is somehow a RINO or a traitor to the cause.
AAGARD: Utah Democrats gain two seats and lose one seat for +1 seat overall gain.
ENGLISH: Republicans lose one state senate seat and one state house seat. As for the others, there won’t be many surprises. Cox, Reyes, Dougall, and Damschen all win.
4. What is your one hot-take election season prediction?
SORENSEN: Is that Trump will fold without a fight one? I’ve seen some really pie-in-the-sky options (Trump resigns after losing, Pence pardons him; Trump doesn’t concede; 2020 actually gains sentience and plugs us all into the Matrix), but I don’t have anything super-hot. It may be a surprise to some to find out how many Republicans lose, but in the end, elections will go on, people will be sworn in, and I think that we may find a way to back down just a tad from the brinksmanship and verbal bomb-throwing of the past 4 years.
AAGARD: The food tax mailer backfires horribly in UDP’s faces.
ENGLISH: Despite millions of Republicans believing that millions of votes were fraudulent because Trump said so, my hot-take is that Biden wins, Dems end the night with 50 Senate seats (making Harris a constant tie-breaker), Dems keeps the House majority, and yet the transfer of power will be peaceful. Any pocket of violence will be sensationalized by the predictable cable channels, depending on who did what to whom. The 2020 Republican autopsy will be brief and largely ignored. The battle for the next two years will be “How does the GOP pick up seats in 2022 to stop this terrifying socialist Democrat majority, and can they do it if Trump keeps threatening to run for re-election in 2024?”