Swing states get their say  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

October 28, 2020

Understand more. Argue less.

The most effortless news experience of your week: both sides, without the exhaustion.


The Final Countdown

Katherine Chuang

It’s less than a week until we finally get back to normal American ads about prescription drugs and beer, and away from the current onslaught of campaign promos. Until then, we just have to stick it out.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Joe Biden has an 88% chance of winning the election (538). While their full process is secret, we do know that they account for national and state polls in their aggregate projections. Both campaigns are prioritizing swing states for their final push, chiefly six --refer to the graphic above-- in the Sun Belt and Midwest (Politico).

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: polling. Can we trust it? What happened in 2016? Well, Nate Silver of 538 and Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Report (two of the most prominent pollsters), agree that the issue was not the polls themselves, but the analysis. In fact, 10 of the last 12 polls released before the 2016 election were within two points of the actual result. The only clear miss seemed to be Wisconsin, where Clinton was projected to win by 6.5 points, but lost to Donald Trump. Historically, polls correctly predict the presidential election about 80% of the time.

Here’s what you need to know.


  • With the pandemic still a very real part of daily life, over 100 million early votes could be cast by election day (Reuters). Biden supporters are more likely to vote early, while a higher percentage of Republicans are expected to vote in person on election day. (Pew Research)

  • Pollsters have implemented changes to produce more accurate predictions by eliciting higher response rates to polls, increasing representation of Americans with little or no college education, and controlling for a voter’s local population density. (538

  • Biden currently has a strong financial advantage, with $162 million of cash on hand vs $43 million for Trump halfway through October (NPR). The significance of this is unclear; Clinton also had a significant financial advantage in 2016. (Bloomberg

  • Republican voter registration is catching up with Democratic registration in swing states. In Florida, 1.2% more Democrats are registered compared to Republicans; in 2016 they had twice that amount and still lost. (TIME)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. The bias ratings refer to news outlets as a whole, not a specific article.

Knowing the bias in our news helps us understand the big picture. If you're reading on mobile, the Right's narrative will appear above the Left's. Next week, we'll switch it up.

Narrative from the Right

Donald Trump will win. While the Democrats have floundered, he's succeeded. Before the pandemic, Trump built one of the strongest economies America has ever seen, even according to the black community (Rasmussen). Democrat-led cities are burning, but Donald Trump will restore law and order and a booming economy.

Headlines & Snippets

Rove breaks down Trump's 'path to victory' through Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

“‘If the president wins every state -- let's take the three Great Lakes states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin [and] put them to the side for a second. If the president wins every one of the rest of the states he won in 2016, and carries Pennsylvania, he's got 280 electoral votes.” (Fox News)

Polling Firm Asks Two Unique Questions, Forecasts Trump Will Win Again

President Trump is building another upset election victory, according to experimental polling from the University of Southern California. Despite Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's lead in the polls, two polling questions from USC have analysts predicting that Trump will win re-election. (The Blaze)

Florida GOP Confident Trump Will Secure Victory In The State

"Florida Republicans believe the Sunshine State will fall into President Trump’s column and help him secure a second term, but much of that confidence stems from significant efforts to boost voter registration for Republicans, as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) unwavering support of the president and his fundamental understanding of governance." (Brietbart)

Narrative from the Left

Joe Biden will win because the American people are exhausted by the complete failure of a Donald Trump presidency. The suburban woman voting bloc, which caused Clinton so much trouble in 2016, seems to be swinging back to Biden (AP). Voters are fed up with Trump and want to return to normalcy and decency, which Joe Biden can provide.

Headlines & Snippets

President Trump Defectors Help Biden Build Leads In Wisconsin And Michigan

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a significant lead in the pivotal states of Michigan and Wisconsin, with President Trump so far failing to retain the overwhelming advantage he enjoyed among white voters there in 2016, according to surveys from The New York Times and Siena College on Monday. (NYT)

Trump's Last Hope of Winning Election Is That Polls Are Devastatingly Wrong

"Based on polling right now, if  Donald Trump should win the electoral college, it would be a devastating blow to the polling industry. None of the major pollsters could claim that they got it right," pollster Frank Luntz told Newsweek, suggesting such a result could see the polling industry itself thrown into jeopardy.” (Newsweek)

Biden Looks Very Competitive In New Southern Swing State Polls

"The results are close enough that Trump could regain his advantage ahead of November 3, but it is striking to see Joe Biden performing so well in states that Trump easily won before, and to see a Democratic candidate putting up big numbers in a region that has skewed Republican for decades." (Vox)

What Does It All Mean?

Many Americans are experiencing some serious deja vu, only 2016 actually happened. The big question this time around is whether or not the supposed “silent majority” actually exists: Will they cause Trump to outperform the polls and get to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs? The primary focus is on these swing states: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

  • If your news outlets lean Right, you will view Biden as weak compared to the strength of Donald Trump. You’ll feel skeptical towards most of the current polls. They were so wrong about 2016, why would they be right this time? You think Donald Trump will win the same way he did in 2016, by bringing out voters not represented in the polls, those who felt left behind by Washington. 

  • If your news outlets lean Left, you will feel confident, but perhaps not cocky about Biden winning the presidency. You’ll be reminded of 2016 and the overconfidence that led to that embarrassing loss. You’ll feel excited by the possibility of holding the House, Senate, and Presidency. You interpret the signs to mean the race is between a slim Biden win and a landslide, instead of Biden vs Trump. 

Overall, Biden is favored to win in about 9 out of 10 scenarios (538). But there's always that 1 in 10 chance. The Democrats may have the edge in early voting, but the Republican voters will be hitting the polls heavy on Tuesday. 

The most important pieces of the electoral puzzle appear to be Pennsylvania and Florida. They carry the most electoral votes of any battleground states, 20 and 29, respectively (AP). If all other states play out as projected and Biden wins either PA or FL, he’s an overwhelming favorite. If Trump wins both, a second term becomes more likely than not (538). Both campaigns have made frequent stops to Pennsylvania, appealing to their voters. The most recent example being Joe Biden promising he wouldn’t ban fracking if elected (PA fracking produces about 25% of the natural gas in the US). (ABC 27)

An October poll by Pew Research found that 63% of Biden supporters were voting against Trump (as opposed to for Biden), while 71% of Trump supporters were voting for him (and not against Biden). How this dynamic impacts voter turnout will be fascinating to follow, and almost certainly won't be realized until the majority of ballots are counted.

Now that you’re equipped with both sides of the story, go make your voice heard. Exercise your democratic privilege. Vote.


It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news gets it right. Here are two instances of traditionally biased outlets reporting with civility by conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

Donald Trump: The Case Against Reelection

“Never Trump” Conservatives are sometimes overlooked in the Republican Party (the Lincoln Project aside). National Review concedes a point to the Left's narrative that Trump isn't as popular as some think. (National Review)

Dems Struggle In Rural America As Trump Holds Steady

The rural vote was a significant factor in Trump's 2016 win, and Democrats have been trying to appeal to that demographic. Politico concedes a point to the Right's narrative that the race is closer than it seems. (Politico)

Let's Argue Less

Now that you understand more about the election, you're ready to take the next step.

Weekly Civility Challenge

Try having a civil conversation with someone who's voting for the other candidate. What was it like? How did you disagree with civility?

Reply to this email with your response and we’ll feature the winner next week!

Last Week's Winner

Here's the best response we received. Thanks Henry N.!

"During the last debate, I told my friends that it is so important to watch the debate start to finish. I believe that both sides of the media "aisle" pick clips that reinforce their agenda, and if consumers of this media only see these clips, then that agenda will only be reinforced. One of my conservative friends was someone I convinced to watch the whole debate.

By the end of the debate, some of Biden's misconceptions, such as his support of abolishing the police and the Green New Deal, were challenged by what Biden actually said on stage. After the debate, we were able to have a civil (see what I did there?) conversation about politics in general, and were able to better understand where we both came from."

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