Since Joe Biden captured the Democratic nomination, he has maintained a remarkably steady lead over Donald Trump. Biden has never trailed Trump and, since the middle of June, his lead has never been less than 6.6 points in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls, and he has rarely fallen below 50%. It is the most consistent lead in the history of presidential polling.
Yet Democrats and anti-Trumpers of all stripes are in a state of depressed panic, almost unable to entertain daydreams of victory in our political Land of Oz. That is totally understandable, and I feel the same way much of the time. The polls are no comfort. Concerns and predictions that Trump will not leave office peacefully or willingly are now rampant — and reasonable even as the president fights coronavirus.
Radical optimism in Biden's ability to win
Entering the fourth quarter in a cloud of gloom, however, is a lousy way to win a game. So, to boost morale, let me spin out a radically optimistic scenario that is consistent with the polls, the handicappers’ picks, and history and actually more likely than the "Doomsday Scenarios."
Biden’s national lead in the 538 average, as of Sep. 24, was 50.3% to 43%. More important, since the spring, he has never trailed in the average of polls in the swing states of Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas look like true toss-ups right now.
Now, suppose that sometime after all the polls have closed on Election Day, sometime after midnight, the returns from solid blue and red states came in as expected. Most of the votes have been counted in the eight “never trailed” states listed above (remember, most states count mail-in and absentee ballots before election day), the results are consistent with exit polls and other data, and the networks “call” them for Biden.
At that point Biden would have 290 electoral votes, 20 more than needed to win. Now suppose that Biden also has clear leads in two of the toss-up states, say Iowa and North Carolina. Biden’s electoral vote would go up to 311 , a margin that could withstand hypothetical reversals in two or even three states.
Imagine that by this late hour, Republican Senate candidates have conceded in Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa. Democrats will have secured the Senate despite losing Doug Jones’ Alabama seat. The Democrats also will have slightly expanded their House majority.
Around 2 a.m. on Nov. 4, Biden declares victory despite Trump’s steady stream of incendiary tweets claiming fraud, sedition and treason. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, already in post-car crash triage mode, issue a joint statement urging Trump to concede given the results in hand. The GOP has effectively conceded for Trump. George W. Bush and other Republicans send congratulations to Biden along with heads of state around the world.
Trump’s bluff has been called. There is no appetite in the GOP to prolong the agony. The process of certifying the electoral votes proceeds in the normal manner, despite the lack of a concession from the lame duck president. Biden and Harris are inaugurated in an orderly manner.
What could happen under Biden's presidency
With control of the White House, Senate and House, the Democrats enact major economic stimulus legislation and extraordinary COVID-19 spending in Biden’s first week.
By the Fourth of July recess, Biden has also shepherded through a historic government reform bill that enlarges the Supreme Court to 13, puts 15-year term limits on the Justices, adds 45 seats to the House of Representatives, gives statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico, and abolishes the Electoral College. The disproportionate power of rural (white) voters that has ruled American history will be diminished, the winner of the popular vote will always be elected president and the Supreme Court will be less susceptible to extended one-party dominance.
By the fall of 2021, COVID-19 vaccines have been deployed widely enough so that the school year begins in nearly routine fashion and the working world continues to normalize. With marginal help from some dissident Republicans, Democrats pass significant expansion and protection of Obamacare, criminal justice reform and start reversing Trump’s climate change setbacks.
Discouraged by party infighting and the loss of power, GOP Senators from the blue or purple states of North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania resign. With the new seats from D.C. and Puerto Rico, Democratic control of the Senate is all but guaranteed for the next two or three cycles. The added seats assure the Democrats will have a majority in the House for several more years at least.
More importantly, the demography of America will be more accurately represented than ever before.
All the election results in this daydream are what today’s polls would predict.
The legislation is all realistic, even probable, except, perhaps, for D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood. The whole picture is more likely than the "Doomsday Scenario" of Trump calling in the tanks to protect him in the White House.
So, as we enter the final phase, Democrats and Trump’s other opponents should be motivated by hope as much as fear — motivated to vote, volunteer, donate, argue and cajole.
In the words of Dorothy Gale, “The dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” With effort.
Dick Meyer is the author of “Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden winning: the good things that could happen if he wins