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BRUCE EVANS: Trump will win again; that’s how the ‘undeclared vote’ cookie will crumble

"Skepticism of polls would be well-advised. Based on his larger-than-life persona, poll-respondent reluctance to show support for Donald Trump is a well-known phenomenon," writes Bruce Evans. - Reuters

BRUCE EVANS • Guest Opinion

You can take it to the bank. Donald J. Trump, 45th president of The United States of America, will win re-election on or about Nov. 3, 2020. The “on or about” part is dependent upon vote-count efficiency and legal challenges. But when the dust settles, the Trumps will not be packing moving boxes. 

My conclusion is not based on a granular state-by-state, county-by-county analysis from down in the weeds. It is, rather, an overview from 35,000 feet — or 10,668 metres if that is more relatable.  

But, you say, Joe Biden has a major polling lead. Yes, he does. The RealClearPolitics average shows Biden with a 7.9 per cent lead. Hillary Clinton’s edge at the same time four years ago? 6.1 per cent. Not a particularly large difference — and we remember how things went for Clinton in 2016. 

Skepticism of polls would be well-advised. Based on his larger-than-life persona, poll-respondent reluctance to show support for Trump is a well-known phenomenon. A recent Gallup poll concluded that 43 per cent of respondents would vote for Trump. However, when asked a less personal question about whom they thought their neighbours would vote for, the number jumped to 56 per cent. Asking for a friend? 

One of my major “tells” is enthusiasm. Based on driving around where I live in Arizona, observing lawn signs, it looks like Biden will finish third behind Trump and Garage Sale. 

There is also the matter of candidate enthusiasm — and energy. Pick any given period of time and compare the schedules of the candidates. Trump criss-crosses the country, giving a couple of major speeches a day, all the while dealing with the daily demands of the presidency. In the same period, Biden does a softball interview with a friendly reporter, then puts a “lid” on his activities for days at a time. Voters will react to that energy/enthusiasm gap, positively for Trump, on Nov. 3. 

U.S. pollster Frank Luntz is well-regarded as one of this country’s most insightful political analysts (full disclosure, I was an original participant in a nascent bipartisan nationwide organization sponsored by Luntz and actor/entrepreneur Andrew Shue; I have since parted ways with that group). Last Thursday (Oct. 15), Luntz had a panel of undecided voters opine on the separate town halls featuring the presidential candidates. Luntz asked about the choice criteria on which they were hung up.  The answer was that they were having trouble deciding between a guy they personally dislike (Trump) and a guy they thought would enact policies that could ruin their lives (Biden). Really? That’s a choice? Which way would you go? 

Trump is fighting a battle on three fronts: the Biden camp, the media, including most pollsters, and The Swamp — entrenched Republicans as well as Democrats. 

Never underestimate a scrapper! In the early 1990s, a Trump entity borrowed $300 million in senior debt, and $250 million in subordinated debt, to buy and renovate the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York. The Japanese bank I worked for then was part of the senior syndicate. There was a deep recession, debt market liquidity was nonexistent and the loan was due, but not refinanceable due to market factors. 

I was my bank’s representative on the workout committee. Trump never lied or used illegal tactics. But it was a little like we were trying to use Marquis of Queensbury rules in a UFC octagon. We didn’t lose a penny. But scrappers seldom lose. 

Back to the 2020s. 

Hatboro, P.A., is a small town just north of Philadelphia.  Lochel’s Bakery is a family business there. This is the fourth presidential election where they have run a “cookie poll.” They have accurately predicted the last three races based on cookie sales. 

This time, they are giving customers the choice of either a Biden or Trump sugar cookie, emblazoned in sprinkles, in blue (Democrat) or red (Republican) respectively. There are controls to prevent a Super-Pac from skewing the results by buying up one entire stock. 

The results so far? 2,800 Biden cookies sold. 10,500 for Trump. In polling terms, that’s a 79 to 21 margin for Trump, with a +/- 100 cookie margin of error at a 95 per cent confidence level. 

As I said, my analysis is not scientific. It’s intuitive. But I trust it. Might this be a Chicago Tribune 1948 headline gaffe “Dewey Defeats Truman” lookalike contest winner?  Maybe. Time will tell. 

With apologies to my friend and fellow Dal Football Founders Club member, pollster extraordinaire Don Mills, I am not following the science; I am going with my gut … and the sprinkles. 

Bruce Evans was born, raised and educated in Atlantic Canada — Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. After a Dal MBA, he had a career in project finance in several cities — Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, New York and L.A. — with a variety of international (Canadian, Japanese, French and Australian) financial players. He is happily retired in Arizona, volunteering, walking a dog named Charli and working to get a golf handicap moving south.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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