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Election Update
August 5, 2020

Thank you for your interest in our NAM-PAC election updates. With the 2020 general election only 90 days away, the final turn of the horserace is coming into sight. We will come to you weekly for the next 13 weeks to give you the information you need to know ahead of Election Day. This first weekly update will cover the key metrics that we will cover in subsequent issues to offer a snapshot of where the race for the White House, Senate and House of Representatives is heading.

Presidential State of Play

If things had gone as planned this year, we would already have seen former Vice President Joe Biden accept the Democratic nomination in Milwaukee with his new running mate last month and be looking toward the Republican National Convention in Charlotte later this month, where President Trump would once again be accepting his party’s banner for president. But the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the campaign season on its ear since March, along with almost every other facet of American life. This has greatly influenced the polling done so far and where the race stands today.

In this section moving forward, we will look at the RealClearPolitics average of national polls to assess the state of the race. The RCP average is a rolling average of recent national polls from a variety of pollsters. They are considered one of the higher standards for detailed aggregation of political polling. Also, in this section, we will compare current polling numbers to where they were at this point in 2016, to give some context from the last time President Trump was on the ballot. Each week, we will look at the changes on a week-to-week basis and discuss the events that might be causing those changes.

Our first set of numbers shows Biden with a steady lead at the national level, trending at an eight-point advantage. At this point in 2016, following the RNC convention in Cleveland, President Trump took the lead in the national polling average against Secretary Hillary Clinton. As a reminder, the final RCP average in 2016 was Clinton +3.2 and the final results nationally were Clinton +2.1. While many assume the polls were “wrong” in 2016 (some state polling indeed had large errors), the national polling did a very good job of predicting the final nationwide popular vote result. However, as we all know and has happened in previous presidential races, a candidate doesn’t need to win the popular vote to win the Electoral College. In 2016, despite losing by 2.8 million votes nationally, President Trump won a decisive Electoral College victory.

Current RCP Average: Biden +8.3 (7/17-7/30)

Last Week RCP Average: Biden +9.1 (7/6-7/25)

2016 RCP Average on This Day: Trump +1.2 (7/29/2016)

Battle for Congress

In this section, we will look at where the “Generic Ballot” stands and how that metric has predicted the results in the House of Representatives in the past. The Generic Ballot is determined by asking a simple question in polling: “If the elections for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for the Republican Party’s candidate or the Democratic Party’s candidate for Congress in your district?” The goal of this question is to get a national sense of where House races stand, without factoring in the effects of incumbency or individual candidates’ popularity. Historically, Generic Ballot polling has been a reliable predictor of the political parties’ fortunes at the ballot box.  

This year, the Generic Ballot has shown a steady lead for a generic Democratic candidate over a generic Republican candidate of between eight and nine points. This is slightly larger than the 2018 final Generic Ballot lead of 7.3 points, which was very close to the actual margin—8.6 points—by which Democrats prevailed in all the votes cast in House races. That election resulted in a net gain for Democrats of 41 seats. In 2016, the final Generic Ballot showed a slight 0.6-point lead for Democrats, but the final result was actually a 1.1-point House popular vote win for Republicans, even though Democrats gained a net of six seats.

With the Generic Ballot showing an 8.6-point lead for Democrats, the exact same margin as the 2018 final results, does that mean Democrats are favored to pick up another 41 seats? No. In looking at the current electoral map, we believe it is more likely to mean that Democrats are close to a high-water mark in their majority and would need a similar final margin to hold their current number of House seats. But it does tell us that, at this moment, Democrats are likely to maintain a majority in the House with either party having a similar chance of a small net seat gain when the final votes are tallied.

Current RCP Generic Ballot Average: Democrats +8.2

Last Week RCP Generic Ballot Average: Democrats +8.6

2018 Final Results: RCP Average: Democrats +7.3. Actual: Democrats +8.6

2016 Final Results: RCP Average: Democrats +0.6. Actual: Republicans +1.1

NAM-PAC State in Focus

In the weeks ahead, we will utilize this space to provide an in-depth look at some of the marquee congressional races in key battleground states that feature NAM-PAC champions. But first, in this inaugural election update, we wanted to provide exciting news about the NAM-PAC. As the NAM-PAC has grown, so has its ability to invest in our champions on Capitol Hill. In fact, in 2020, the NAM-PAC will be providing more financial support to the campaigns of pro-manufacturing candidates than in the past six years combined. We look forward to providing insight into these races and also letting you know how you can get involved to do more if you desire.

One thing you can do right now is make a contribution to the NAM-PAC. One hundred percent of the money you contribute goes directly to candidates for the House and Senate with a proven track record of working to help manufacturers succeed. We hope you will consider giving today, and remember, no amount is too small to help ensure our voice is heard loudly and clearly in Congress. Thank you for your support, and for any further information or questions, please email NAM-PAC Director Bryan Spadaro at [email protected].

Contributions to the NAM-PAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. NAM-PAC can only accept personal contributions. Maximum annual individual contribution is $5,000. All contributions are voluntary, and you have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Federal law prohibits NAM-PAC from accepting contributions from foreign nationals. Contributions will be used for political purposes. Federal law requires NAM-PAC to use its best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of the employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.