WASHINGTON – I try to avoid making predictions during a presidential campaign. Aside from the fact that I’m superstitious, recent presidential races have been difficult to predict until much closer to the election. When I have made predictions, I’ve often been wrong. For example, I declined an invitation in 2000 to fly to Nashville to be with the Gore campaign in the event of a recount. “There is no way there will be a presidential recount,” I said.

But this year the dynamics have been set for months. The most recent developments such as President Trump’s disastrous debate performance, a New York Times report that Trump had not paid taxes for 10 years before 2016 and then only $750 for the next two years, and Trump’s handling of his COVID, point to momentum moving in Joe Biden’s direction. Post-debate polls reveal a Biden bounce. A CNN poll released Tuesday, Oct. 6, shows Biden leading Trump by 16 points, 57% to 41%. A NBC/WSJ poll released Sunday, Oct. 4, has Biden leading Trump by 14 points, 53% to 39%. Biden is running ahead in all the battleground states and running even in some states once believed to be safe for Trump. Even assuming wavering Trump voters return home, it doesn’t look promising for the president’s reelection chances.  

With that in mind, below are my predictions with less than a month to go.

1.) There is usually tightening before the election, but Joe Biden should easily defeat Donald Trump 54% to 45%. I believe Biden will carry all the states Barack Obama won in 2008, except Indiana. But Biden likely also wins Arizona and at least one of Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia. My prediction would have Biden winning the 365 electoral votes Obama won (Indiana and Arizona each has 11 electoral votes so it’s an even trade) plus at least one of Iowa (6), Ohio (16) or Georgia (16). Biden would have to win all three to reach 400 electoral votes (403 to be exact). The last presidential candidate to win 400 electoral votes was George H. W. Bush with 426 electoral votes in 1988.

2.) Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate.  Democrats are poised to win at least three of Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina. Democrats will likely win at least one of Iowa, Kansas, Montana, and Georgia. Democrats could even win an upset in South Carolina, Alabama (currently held by Democrat Doug Jones), Kentucky, Texas, or Mississippi. The Senate is currently 53-47 in favor of Republicans. Democrats will end up with at least 52 seats.  In North Carolina, Democrat Cal Cunningham’s admission that he sent romantic text messages to a woman not his wife has thrown that race into uncertainty. Incumbent Thom Tillis contracted the COVID after attending the super coronavirus spreading White House Supreme Court announcement event. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Oct. 6 has Cunningham up by 5 points, 47% to 42%. But the full impact of his misstep has not registered. Democrat Mark Kelly has held a consistent healthy lead against incumbent Republican Martha McSally in Arizona and John Hickenlooper has consistently led incumbent Cory Gardner in Colorado. But a new poll in Maine suggests Susan Collins is bouncing back against Sara Gideon after trailing for months. Meanwhile, Teresa Greenfield is running slightly ahead of Republican incumbent Joni Ernst in Iowa while Barbara Bollier is in a tossup race with Roger Marshall in the open Kansas seat and Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Steve Daines are in a dogfight in Montana. Democrats believe there are at least NINE Republican-held Senate seats in play this year. If Biden ends up winning big, most close Senate races will tip toward the Democrats.

3.) Democrats will gain a net 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats gained 41 House seats in the 2018 midterm elections so there are few historically competitive seats left for them to pick up in 2020. But they are competing in districts they haven’t won in decades. One of those is Indiana 5, the seat held by crazy rightwing Danny Burton for 30 years. All signs indicate Democrat Christina Hale will be the next 5th District congresswoman succeeding retiring Republican Susan Brooks.

4.) The presidential election will be called within a day or two after Election Day. All the hand-wringing about confusion over the outcome of the presidential election will prove to have been unnecessary. Some states will take many days and even weeks to count all the ballots. However, key battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio have tight deadlines and will be able to report unofficial returns rather quickly. In addition, the reported results along with exit polls should show an indisputable victory for Joe Biden in most other battleground states. In other words, the outcome of the presidential race is likely to be clear the morning after if not on election night.

5.) Trump’s efforts to disrupt and discredit the election will be unsuccessful. President Trump has been banking on an election close enough to steal. Trump’s unsupported attacks on the legitimacy of voting by mail will make a difficult situation more challenging for election officials. But his desire to preemptively cast doubt on election results will not work given Biden’s likely margin. In other words, in spite of Trump’s push to have Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination confirmed before the election to give him another vote on the Court, there will be no Bush v. Gore II. That’s not to say there won’t be cases filed and some election night skirmishes. But generally speaking, votes will be counted without a major hitch.

Many observers point to 2016 to caution against reaching premature conclusions about the outcome. There are still more than three weeks, two debates and potentially several major events to go. As Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” But three weeks out the ground is rumbling and the political winds are favoring a big Biden win rather than another Trump shocker. There are too many fundamental differences between the two elections for a repeat of 2016.

The more likely open question is not whether Trump will lose but whether 2020 is more like a 1980 year when the presidential race brought a slew of surprise Senate seats with the presidential outcome. Or is 2020 more like 1988 when the presidential race was an Electoral College blowout but few surprises otherwise? A growing number of insiders, including Republicans, suspect a Trump collapse will bring more than a few Democratic congressional victories. 

Sautter is a Democratic media consultant based in Washington.