How Trump Can Win

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Across the political spectrum, many Americans are obsessed with the idea that President Trump will pull off another surprise victory this November. Today, I want to look at how such a victory might happen.

If recent polls are perfectly accurate, Joe Biden will win comfortably, taking both the Upper Midwest and several Sun Belt states. But they may not be.

The state-by-state polls could be off in a systematic way, as they were in 2016, when they underestimated Trump’s white working-class support. Pollsters have tried to fix that problem, and there is no reason to believe they have failed, as The Times’s Nate Cohn says. But polling is an inexact science, made harder by the decline in landline phones.

The bigger issue is that the campaign isn’t over, and Trump could gain support in the final weeks. One possibility is that the coming Supreme Court confirmation battle will sway some conservative voters who are dissatisfied with Trump. If the campaign were a referendum on his presidency, they might vote for Biden. If the confirmation battle instead gets them thinking about whether they’re conservative or liberal, they could come home to Trump.

The Upshot’s polling scorecard offers a useful way to think about this: Trump will narrowly win re-election if the results differ from the current polls by as much (and in the same direction) as the 2016 results differed from the final polls.

In this scenario, he would probably still lose the popular vote. But he would win all the states where he leads or trails very narrowly, like Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio — and Arizona, where most polls show him trailing but a new ABC/Washington Post poll this morning shows a virtual tie. Even with those, Trump would need one more, and the most likely seems to be Pennsylvania, where Biden’s lead has hovered around 5 percentage points.

Only a few years ago, Pennsylvania was more Democratic than the country as a whole, but it has shifted right, driven by its large number of white residents without a college degree. Trump is trying to appeal to them by emphasizing both many Democrats’ hostility to fracking (Biden’s own position is more nuanced) and the coronavirus lockdown imposed by the state’s Democratic governor, according to The Times’s Trip Gabriel, who has reported from the state.

Notably, Trump trails in Pennsylvania by less than he does in Wisconsin or Michigan, two other states he won in 2016. “Pennsylvania has to be troubling the Biden campaign,” Trip says.

A Trump victory may end up involving another factor: disputed mail ballots. (Thomas Edsall, a Times Opinion writer, lists those ballots as one of five reasons for Biden to worry.)

The Trump campaign has consistently tried to make voting more difficult, believing that low turnout benefits the president. Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with the campaign and ruled that election officials could not count mailed ballots that arrived in only a single envelope, rather than including a second “secrecy” envelope.

One local official told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the ruling could lead to more than 100,000 completed ballots being thrown out — or between 1 and 2 percent of the total likely to be cast.

More election news:

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said that he would support Trump’s push to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His decision essentially ensures that Republicans will be able to confirm a new justice.

Trump will announce his choice at 5 p.m. on Saturday, he told a rally last night. Hoping to deflect attention from the coronavirus, he is pushing for confirmation before Election Day. Some Republicans would like to wait, hoping that the issue will lift conservative turnout and help the party keep control of the Senate.

The Miami-Dade County school board approved a plan for students to return to classrooms full time starting next month. The reopening would make Miami-Dade, the fourth-biggest district in the U.S., the largest to bring students back into the classroom full-time. (Families who prefer virtual learning would be allowed to continue with it.)

In other virus developments:

Cameron Parish, a close-knit coastal community in southwestern Louisiana, is a place where families tend to stick for generations. But as the changing climate has pummeled the Gulf Coast with more frequent and more furious hurricanes, residents are agonizing over whether they should rebuild homes and businesses, again, or move.

Trump’s legacy: In his first term, federal judges have rejected a number of the president’s rollbacks of environmental rules. A second term, and a more conservative Supreme Court, could help his administration secure those changes.

The future: The Times spoke to two dozen experts about the future of the climate crisis, and the steps that could prevent the worst outcomes.

  • The House approved a spending bill to fund the government through December 11.

  • Louisville residents are awaiting a decision by Kentucky’s attorney general about whether his office will bring charges against the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor inside her home in March.

  • In a video Op-Ed, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya tells the story of her transformation from stay-at-home mom to leader of a Belarusian revolution.

  • Lives Lived: Growing up in difficult circumstances in New Jersey, Tommy DeVito was, in his own words, “a hell-raiser.” But he found a purpose when he got serious about music, forming a band called the Variety Trio. After a teenage singer named Frankie Valli joined the band, it found success as the Four Seasons. DeVito died of the coronavirus at 92.

Every day, a team of Times journalists works with reporters and editors around the world to create this newsletter — and help you make sense of the world. Please consider supporting our work by subscribing to The Times.

When the Southern chef and food writer Edna Lewis was growing up on a Virginia farm in the early 20th century, her family would gather for elaborate breakfasts that included fried chicken, sweet potatoes and more. Lewis liked to describe breakfast “as ‘about the best part of the day,’ when everyone greeted each other ‘with a real sense of gratefulness to see the new day,’” as Bee Wilson has written in The Wall Street Journal.

Wilson’s essay is a lovely plea for more Americans to channel Lewis and ditch their boring breakfasts of cereal or toast. In many other countries, that’s the norm: Breakfast resembles lunch or dinner more than a dessert. And the rhythms of pandemic life give Americans a chance to make a change.

“For some people working at home during the pandemic, it has been easier to have later and more leisurely breakfasts,” Wilson writes. “When you already have coffee in your body and a Zoom meeting under your belt, you may branch out and turn your mind to more brunch-like dishes — such as a spicy shakshuka of eggs poached in a rich cumin-scented tomato sauce and topped with cilantro.”

A personal postscript: I ditched my cereal breakfasts a few years ago and switched to a combination of eggs, cheese, bread, fruit and vegetables. (Yes, vegetables.) I highly recommend it.

Officially, Beth George is a lawyer. But since 2013, she’s worked day and night as one of the world’s most sought-after bagel consultants. Largely self-taught, she wrote her first bagel recipe in the back of a Lebanese cookbook. Since then, aspiring bakers from the Bahamas to Saudi Arabia have hired her to develop recipes and help guide their business plans.

To bake: For something a bit simpler to make at home, try the classic no-knead bread — one of the most popular recipes The Times has ever published.

Some of the tallest waves on earth are in Nazaré, a Portuguese fishing port. A scientific team has determined that Maya Gabeira, a 33-year-old Brazilian, rode a 73.5 feet wave in February, the biggest wave surfed in the 2019-20 winter season. That’s a first for a female surfer.

Seven years ago, Gabeira almost died wiping out on a 50-foot wave, and her long recovery involved three back surgeries.

  • Take a virtual tour of Montana, where the trout are plentiful and the crafting of fly-fishing rods is an art.

  • The late-night hosts responded to Romney’s decision to support Trump’s plan to quickly seat a Supreme Court justice.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: thumbs-up (three letters).

You can find all of our puzzles here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The word “ghostlings” appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday as noted by the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said.

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