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Will The Polls Be Right In This Election Cycle?; It Really Is All Coming Down To Pennsylvania; Protests Erupt After African-American Man With Mental Health Issues Shot By Police In Philadelphia; Coincidence Philly Police Body Cam Footage To Be Released After The Election?; What Does Early Voting Data Indicate?; Brownstein: Dem Victory May Not Neutralize GOP. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired October 31, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Voting ends in just three days in the most tumultuous election of our lives. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. This year's polls indicate the President is about to be sent packing, perhaps bigly. Remember, the national polling wasn't far off in 2016. They had Hillary Clinton winning by 3.2 percent. She won the popular vote by 2.1 percent.
What pollsters did notoriously miss was the narrow margin in several swing states which gave Trump his victory. You'll meet a guest in a moment who was an outlier and had it right. As "Politico" puts it, "Robert Cahaly, a Republican pollster with the Trafalgar Group, had pre-election surveys that showed Trump nudging out Clinton in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina, all of which he won."
Trafalgar also accurately predicted that Trump would win the Electoral College 306 to 232, though mistakenly they gave Trump the 10 votes of New Hampshire and Nevada instead of Wisconsin. Still, Trafalgar said 306, Trump won 306.
Then in the 2018 midterms in Florida, Trafalgar was the only polling firm to correctly show Ron DeSantis winning the governor's race and Rick Scott winning the Senate race. As "RealClearPolitics" put it, "Trafalgar also correctly predicted senate outcomes in Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Texas and West Virginia, making it the most accurate pollster of the cycle among those firms that polled multiple Senate and governors' races."
They're certainly not infallible. Trafalgar didn't think that Kyrsten Sinema would defeat Martha McSally in Arizona and wildly overestimated Brian Kemp's margin of victory in Georgia, but the Trafalgar Group is again predicting a Trump victory even though most other reputable pollsters predict a Biden victory and even though many regard Trafalgar's methods as suspect.
Currently, CNN has Biden already above the needed 270 and Trump with 163 and the rest of the states too close to call. Trafalgar, on the other hand, is saying 275 for Trump, 216 for Biden, 47 toss-up. Are they on to something? Or smoking something? Here's what Philip Bump of "The Washington Post" had to say about Cahaly on Dan Abrams "SiruisXM" radio program yesterday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The word I would use to describes his claims is laughable from his claim about the sample size which is absolutely ridiculous and statistically unsound to his claims about the ways in which they do the polling, which are both unproven and subject to a lot of fluctuation that real pollsters try and avoid.
I would say that someone who is trying to bank on having made a correct guess in one election is not necessarily someone who you should assume necessarily has a strong track record of success.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Similarly, Nate Silver of the "FiveThirtyEight" blog recently tweeted this, "I don't know exactly what they're doing, but it's not a good sign that I always know what a Trafalgar Group poll is going to say without having to open the link." Well, let's find out exactly what they are doing and why they were among the only ones to get it right last time.
Joining me now is chief pollster of the Trafalgar Group, Robert Cahaly. Robert, people want to know if you're the broken clock of pollsters. You know, you get it right twice a day by accident or whether you know something. So how does your methodology differ from the rest?
ROBERT CAHALY, CHIEF POLLSTER, THE TRAFALGAR GROUP: Well, thanks. Good to be here. What I think you're finding is these guys are making pot shots, but clearly the fellow from "The Washington Post" hadn't done his research because he said we got one election right. He didn't run through the statistic of 92.6 to the time our calls are right. That's a statistic that "The Washington Post" can get nowhere near in their polling.
So yes, what they're -- what they're pointing to is that they think that our methodology, because it's different, is wrong and first of all, we believe that people aren't honest with pollsters. We don't think that's wrong, we think that's the modern world. It's called the social desirability bias. It's been around for a while. It was in play in 2016. Shy Trump voters.
You've heard this theory and it was certainly in play in the governor's race in Florida last year and that's why they all got it wrong again. So it's really great that they have such strong opinions, but, you know, facts do matter and if a broken clock is right twice a day, then you got to consider, we've been right so many times, that it's a -- it's a group of different broken clocks apparently.
SMERCONISH: So the social desirability issue that you explain, others call it the Bradley effect. I remember that race back in the 1980s against George Deukmejian. You essentially say, look, people are lying. They're lying to pollsters. Well, then how are you able to get their real feelings and emotions where others cannot?
CAHALY: First and foremost, we give -- we get greater sense of anonymity. The more anonymous someone is, the more honest they are.
[09:05:00] So the absolute worst way to poll these people is a live call where you have a live person asking someone whether they support Trump. Everybody in your audience, everyone you know, you can think of at least a few people that support Trump that don't want to share it with anybody.
Now assume they get a polling call. You think they're saying they vote for Trump? Well, now just understand that that is a national effect and people are hesitant. Now, if they get a call that they feel like, hey, this is anonymous, I can make my feelings known, then you're much more likely to get a real answer. It's kind of like the social media account that you put your pictures of your family and your kids on and then the one that people have that they kind of troll others on. That's their genuine emotion ...
SMERCONISH: But ...
CAHALY: ... that's what's going to vote (ph).
SMERCONISH: But Robert, some of -- some of the data that it's generating does seem fantastical. Here's something else that Nate Silver said. I'll put it up on the screen and allow you to respond to it. Silver said, "I'm not a Let's Delve Into The Crosstabs guy, but some of the s*** here is just crazy. Trump is not going to win 30 percent of the Democratic vote in Michigan. Biden is not going to win 25 percent of Republicans. Trump is not going to win Independents by 32 points."
Isn't he right? Those are your crosstabs and Trump is not going to win 30 percent of that Democratic vote.
CAHALY: First of all, Nate Silver doesn't understand the way Michigan works. Michigan is not a registration by party state. So the party registration is based on the local primary you vote in. So let's say you live in Wayne County. Well, you probably vote in the Democrat primary if you want to have any say so in county government and yet you're voting for Trump. There's another person who is technically classed as Democrat who voted for Trump.
Your party -- your lack of party registration means that your party is reflected by what local primaries you vote in. Everybody in America can relate to having to vote in a specific primary to participate at a local level while having different national feelings and maybe if Nate understood ...
SMERCONISH: OK. Here's ...
CAHALY: ... the way the voter file worked. He'd see it differently.
SMERCONISH: Here's another one and these are guys that speak your language. I hope this isn't going to be above the rest of it. David Wasserman from "The Cook Political Report," David Wasserman, "To me, the fact that Trafalgar is publishing ridiculous 60-person crosstabs of Pennsylvania's 18 districts is the biggest tell they don't really know what they're doing." What's your response to that?
CAHALY: I don't see how -- if you (ph) add up all the crosstabs, you certainly get up -- you get to the point where you have the full 1,000-person sample. I mean, they're attacking the sample size. So by their math, you'd rather go with the small 400, 500, 600 sample size? We have a minimum of 1,000, so we get a lower margin of error.
So you know, I am sure there are lots of guys like that who, back in the day, were attacked -- these Pony Express defenders who were attacking the telegraph lines, but they're going to be proven to be wrong again and then we're going to see who knows what they're doing and who doesn't.
SMERCONISH: Pennsylvania, I'll put this on the screen. Let me show you where the CNN Poll of Polls is and where you are. You show it at 48.4 to 47.6, essentially a tie. CNN says it's a 7-point race. Let me move on to Wisconsin next. Wisconsin, huge outlier, 47.1 to 47.5. You've got Wisconsin by 9 for -- or pardon me. CNN has Wisconsin by 9 for Joe Biden. Wherein lies that disconnect. A 9-point race or a dead heat?
CAHALY: I like my record versus CNN polls in the last two cycles. I'll stand by that.
SMERCONISH: On Wednesday morning, you're either going to be someone with egg on his face or someone who, I guess, is again going to be able to say, I got it right. The charge is that you're in the tank for Trump. Respond to that.
CAHALY: Well, then explain why, in 2018, we called quite a few races that the Republicans really wanted to win like John James. I think John James is a great guy, but Debbie Stabenow was going to win and we called that right better than anyone else. We dismissed the challenge against Joe Manchin in July as being ineffective and called that race for Manchin. We predicted Evers would defeat Scott Walker in Wisconsin and we also called that Tester would defeat Rosendale in Montana when all the Republicans wanted Rosendale to win.
So why would I do that? I care more about getting it right. These guys make money serving a client. Our client -- our only focus is getting it right because that's where our private sector business comes from. We're not pushing any media or paid political agenda and we don't live ...
SMERCONISH: I know that ...
CAHALY: ... by two click (ph).
SMERCONISH: I know that it's not inexpensive to be in the field in all these battleground states. Who pays for the data that I've just shared with the CNN audience?
[09:10:00] CAHALY: When we put a presidential poll, we -- everything is on our social media. If we put a presidential poll out and we don't list a partner, then we pay for the presidential question ourselves. We quite often sell additional questions, as many pollsters do, but nobody pays for a presidential question we put out as our own and when we put a poll out with a partner, that's made very clear in the post.
SMERCONISH: Robert, thank you for being here.
CAHALY: Always good to be here, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Does the outlier Trafalgar Group again have the insight everybody else is missing or are the polls right this time? Joining me now is CNN's poll guru, senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten. Harry, wherein lies the fault with their methodology.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes. You know, you mentioned -- he's used that Pony Express line a lot. I've heard him use it on "Fox," but the fact of the matter is is he's just not using live interviewers and there are a bunch of pollsters who aren't using live interviewers, such as CBS YouGov and they have Biden well ahead.
The fact is he's using auto dialers. You remember Homer Simpson was using an auto dialer in the 1990s. There's nothing to me that suggests that his methodology is any more unique and he's really not all that transparent about it, right?
And the other thing that I will note, you know, he mentions his record from 2017 to 2019, you know, the 2018 midterms. His polls, in those years, were biased in favor of the GOP candidates by 4 points. If that is the case this time around, even if it's just the average, he would have, in fact, Joe Biden ahead in many of these swing states.
SMERCONISH: Harry, what of this business, because you hear it from more than just Robert Cahaly, that there's the shy Trump voter. It seems, at one level, illogical to me because the Trump voters that I see or we watch on television seem very proud to wear Trump on their sleeve. Nevertheless, there have been elections in the past, I've worked on some, where there was a hidden vote because people are embarrassed to say, I'm for that guy, in this instance who gets portrayed sometimes as being racist or xenophobic. So might there be something to that?
ENTEN: I mean, look, we do -- we can't say for sure that Donald Trump is going to lose this election. He still has a chance. I want to be very, very clear about that, but the fact is, if you look at the non- live interview polls, right? The ones that are done online, the ones that are done by automated phone, they are also finding Joe Biden ahead. So sure, it's possible that there's a hidden Trump vote, there's just no real proof of it in the pudding.
SMERCONISH: Some of the polling, even when you remove Trafalgar, even when you remove Rasmussen and you go with more names that are well known in American households, is coming to different conclusions. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about.
SMERCONISH: Wisconsin, I looked at an ABC Washington Post poll, I compared it to a more -- yes, there it is. ABC Washington Post says 57-48 for Biden, Marquette says 48-43. In other words, one says 9, another says 5. How can both be true?
ENTEN: Well, look, they both can't be true, right? And I think the numbers might have been a little screwy there, but the point is one had a 17-point margin, one had a 5-point margin. That's what we should be seeing when there's margins of error, right? Polls are tools. They are not perfect. That's why sometimes the polls, you know, might say someone's ahead by 2 or 3 and they lose by 2 or 4.
We should be seeing that spread and when we see that spread, that's an indication that the pollsters are actually doing their job and that's why I'm all about taking the average and if you look at the averages right now, even if you have a polling miss the same size as you had in 2016, Joe Biden would still be ahead in this race. That doesn't mean Donald Trump can't win. He just needs a bigger polling miss this time around in order to do so.
SMERCONISH: Michael Moore said something interesting. Catherine, do we have the tape? Because I would love for Harry to be able to respond to this, but Michael Moore said this and I'd like you to talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER FROM MICHIGAN: Listen, don't believe these polls, first of all, and second of all, the Trump vote is always being undercounted. Pollsters, when they actually call a real Trump voter, the Trump voter is very suspicious of the deep state calling them and asking them who they're voting for and it's all fake news to them, remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Is he on to something, Harry?
ENTEN: I don't think so. I mean, look, again, I'll just go over the point over and over and over again. When you look at the automated phone polls or you look at the online polls, you see the same basic leads for Joe Biden. Again, this doesn't mean that Donald Trump can't win, but it simply means I do not see it in the data at this point and I'm someone who is all about data. I just can't make it any more clear than that.
The other thing I'll just note about Trafalgar which you sort of mentioned a little bit earlier, you know, he mentions, oh, we got it right in the Texas Senate race. The fact is he vastly overestimated Ted Cruz's margin and that's what we see over and over and over again. Yes, he got it right in 2016. We'll see if he gets it right in 2020. He could. I just don't think he will based upon the mountain of evidence that we see before us.
SMERCONISH: Harry Enten, thank you as always. I really appreciate your expertise.
ENTEN: Thank you, sir.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page.
[09:15:01] I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. "Smerconish, CNN, what about a Donald Trump blowout?" You know, it's kind of funny, John, that we think -- you know, you look at the data and it seems like it's headed for a Biden blowout or a squeaker maybe, very outside chance for Donald Trump. Nobody seems to talk about that.
That would be completely unsupported by the data, in fact even by Trafalgar's data. Even Robert Cahaly wouldn't say that's in the cards. I know from interviewing Cahaly and reading in on this subject, even he concedes that he thinks it's a Joe Biden popular vote victory. So no one is calling for that outcome.
I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Smerconish.com and answer this week's survey question. When will America know the results of the presidential vote? Are we going to know Election Night, will we know within three days of the election, more than three days or when the Supreme Court rules on it? Cast your ballot. I'll give you the results at the end of the hour.
Up ahead, although Tuesday is officially Election Day, unprecedented numbers of Americans have already voted. What does this tell us and who does it help?
Plus, don't take my word that Pennsylvania is the key to 2020. Look at both campaigns which are spending the final hours swamping the Commonwealth with events, but might all these rallies have less impact than this week's killing by Philadelphia police of a 27-year-old black man and the subsequent civil unrest?
SMERCONISH: Of all the swing states this election cycle, the one that seems most politically competitive is my home state of Pennsylvania. Look at these headlines. One reason -- the state's complex population. It mirrors the divides of America -- depressed former coal and steel towns, thriving wealthy suburbs, inner cities, rural farmers, frackers.
Remember, the President won the state's 20 electoral votes in 2016 by a mere 44,292. That's 0.7 of a percentage point. The candidates certainly think it pivotal and have been visiting repeatedly. Today, President Trump will make remarks in Bucks County and then hold three rallies, first in Reading in Eastern Pennsylvania, then Butler in the west, he'll go to Montoursville. He's also campaigning in Scranton on Monday. This will make 10 campaign stops in the state following five in September. Scranton-born former Vice President Biden will be in Michigan tonight with President Obama, but is also appearing in Philadelphia tomorrow. After many previous appearances in the state these final two months and driving home the significance of the state on Monday, the final day of the campaign, it'll be Vice President Biden, Senator Kamala Harris and their spouses all scheduled to campaign in all four corners of the Commonwealth.
Among the big unknown factors adding to this year's drama, it's the first time the state is allowing no-excuse mail-in voting in a presidential contest and just this week, the Supreme Court of the United States turned down a GOP request to rule on the state Supreme Court's three-day extension deadline to tally mail-in votes saying, "It was too close to the election to change," but that issue might be revisited after the election.
Another X factor, the fatal shooting this week by Philadelphia police of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old African-American man with mental health issues and a rap sheet who was wielding a knife and whose own family had called 911 for help. Wallace's family say that they called for an ambulance, but police showed up first. The family's attorney says that after viewing the body cam footage of police, they do not want the officers to face murder charges.
Their reasoning is that the officers only had the resources for deadly force. The officers fired 14 times at Wallace from about a car and a half-length distance. The officers also did not have tasers, which the mayor says is due to budget constraints.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAKA JOHNSON, WALLACE FAMILY ATTORNEY: The city has failed not only the Wallace family, not only the other members of that community who will be scarred and traumatized for the remainder of their days, but the city has also failed those police officers. It failed them tremendously. The only remedy the police had in that moment, per their thinking, was their service weapon. There was no less lethal option available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The shooting set off protests, looting and violent clashes with police and both candidates felt compelled to address it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a terrible thing. What I'm witnessing is terrible and frankly that the mayor or whoever it is that's allowing people to riot and loot and not stop them is also just a horrible thing. Again, a Democrat-run state, a Democrat- run city, Philadelphia. We don't have that. We don't have it. The Republicans don't have it.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There is no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence. None whatsoever. I think to be able to protest is totally legitimate and there are certain things we're going to have to do and that is how we deal with how you diminish the prospect of lethal shooting in circumstances like the one we saw.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: On Thursday, the Wallace family was shown the police body cam footage. The public has not yet seen it and on Friday, police announced it will be released on November 4, the day after the election. In a joint statement, the mayor of Philadelphia, the district attorney's office and the Wallace family said they hope that this will, quote, "Provide enough time to calm tensions and for the recordings to be released in the most constructive manner possible."
However, it's certainly not a coincidence that they're choosing to release the tape only after the election. Joining me now is Cherri Gregg, an attorney and community affairs reporter for "KYW NewsRadio." Cherri, are you surprised that the family has said, hey, we don't want the police prosecuted in this case, at least not for murder?
CHERRI GREGG, COMMUNITY AFFAIRS REPORTER, KYW NEWSRADIO: I don't think -- I'm not surprised at all, Michael, and the reason is because, I mean, this was a mental health crisis. They needed help. The mother, Kathy Brant, she mentioned that she had fallen in the home trying to calm her son down. They needed help calming Walter Wallace Jr. down and so when police came, what she said she wanted was for them to talk him down, to tase him, to do anything except shoot him the way that they did.
So I don't think that they believe that these officers intentionally tried to like murder their son in that way, instead they believe that the only option that these officers had was to use a weapon that dispatched deadly force.
SMERCONISH: So the Wawa that I visit every Saturday morning in Center City was boarded up this morning and I couldn't get my coffee. Just sort of a sign of the times. The decision to release this the day after the election, do you think that that was because of the election? In other words, concern on the part of the city that President Trump would use this as a political means if, in fact, there was more unrest after people see the tape?
GREGG: I do think that. I mean, we are in the middle of an election. All eyes are on Pennsylvania, as you said earlier, and I mean, I went to the polls on the last day of early voting and a lot of people told me they were motivated, but there were other people in the community who told me they felt a sense of despair.
And so I think, you know, putting that video out, having people be re- traumatized -- because you have to understand, Michael, people are traumatized every time they see these videos. They feel a sense of hopelessness and so you don't want that happening right before an election and the hopelessness is what leads to the looting, it's what leads to the rioting.
And, you know, that community in West Philadelphia, I've been covering it for many years and they were just starting to recover from the riots and the looting that took place earlier this year after the death of George Floyd and so they wanted some calm so that people would not feel uncomfortable going to the polls on Election Day. I was glad to see that so many people were unafraid and not deterred on the last day of early voting, which was on Tuesday, just 24 hours, less than 24 hours after the shooting occurred.
SMERCONISH: See, I totally get that latter point that you don't want there to be unrest. Well, you never want there to be unrest. You don't want there to be unrest that then causes people to be frightened about coming out and participating on Tuesday. By the same token -- and I agree with that, but by the same token, if you're saying, well, we're not going to release it because we don't want to give Trump something that he can complain about, then it strikes me different and probably running afoul of the way the city should be looking at this. I hope I'm making sense. You get the final word.
GREGG: Yes. I don't necessarily think that this is a Trump-focus. I think it's a safety issue and I mean, any government has to balance the need for information and transparency with public safety. And I mean, I was out there in June and late May for the protests and riots that took place. I was tear-gassed at the time. You know, I didn't feel like my personal, physical safety was in danger, but I mean, it does cause police resources to be focused in neighborhoods and do -- and all sorts of things.
And we don't know what is going to happen in Philadelphia on Election Day. I mean, we've been the target of all sorts of tweets and disinformation throughout the weeks leading to this election and so the I think -- this is my personal opinion that I -- that the city must balance public safety with transparency and I think that this decision is a perfect balance of that.
SMERCONISH: Cherri, thank you so much for being here.
GREGG: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Up ahead, early voting is dominating this election. In Texas, the number of ballots cast so far has already surpassed the state's total turnout from 2016. What impact might this have on overall turnout and the results?
And I want to remind you to go to the website, Smerconish.com. Answer this week's survey question. When will we know the results of the presidential election?
SMERCONISH: With Election Day truly now right around the corner, voter turnout has already reached unprecedented levels. According to data from the U.S. Elections Project over 89 million people have already voted over, 57 million by mail, over 32 million in person. Another staggering statistic, voters have cast over 65 percent of the total votes counted in the entire 2016 general election with key states like Texas already surpassing their total turnout from 2016 this time around.
With voter turnout high and a few days left to go, what picture does the voting data paint heading into Tuesday? Joining me now to parse through the voter turnout data is the creator of the U.S. Elections Project and political science professor at the University of Florida, Michael McDonald.
Professor, first of all the good news. Isn't it great news? I mean, who would have thought that in the midst of a pandemic we'd be setting records?
MICHAEL MCDONALD, CREATOR, U.S. ELECTIONS PROJECT/POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: Yes, absolutely. It is a good news story that we are holding an election. We were very concerned about the capability of election officials to do that. It's another great news story, too, is that because people have voted early they spread out the workload of election officials over a longer period of time and that's helping election officials manage the election better, it's helping them also reach back out to voters who have problems and help those -- help them fix those problems.
SMERCONISH: Right. Except in states like mine where they're not going to process those ballots until Election Day. I worry what that process looks like.
So, lacking your expertise from the outside looking in I look at this and I say, President Trump has constantly disparaged mail-in voting, sometimes he likes to distinguish between mail-in and absentee. How then can you not look at this data and say it's an enormous advantage for Vice President Biden?
MCDONALD: This has been a fascinating election on many fronts. But if you take a big step back and look at the big picture more Democrats have voted early and that's typical. We usually see more Democrats vote early. It is the way that they're voting early is different than in the past and also how Republicans are voting.
So in the past it's been Democrats voting in person early and the Republicans tend to vote by mail. This election it is all twisted around and you're seeing Democrats vote by mail and Republicans vote in person. Now, there's a lot of variation in the states but that's the general trend.
SMERCONISH: Well, let me -- let put it up on the screen. Let me put on the screen the total numbers. Here's the total voted by party registration. So, this is -- this is both in person and mail ballots. Democrats 46.2 percent. Republicans 30 percent. No party affiliation 23.2. Does that not sound like significant advantage Joe Biden?
MCDONALD: Again, this is something that typically happens. More Democrats vote early. They usually are voting in person early. This time they're voting by mail.
We also have a large number of people voting early, too. So, let keep that in mind. And then Election Day itself tends to be a very Republican day with lots of Republicans voting in person on Election Day. And it is that war -- tug of war that's going on between the early vote and the Election Day vote that determines the outcome of the election.
If we got more early vote coming in and it's Democratic it means that the Republicans are going to have make up more ground in the Election Day vote. And since there's going to be less of it we expect it means it's going to be more difficult for Trump to make up ground. Not impossible. I mean, there's some places where I think it's very close so we'll just have to wait and see what that Election Day vote tells us.
SMERCONISH: I want to differentiate between, and I'll put this on the screen as well, mail ballots returned and in-person votes. And you can see that the number of mail ballots returned almost doubles those of in-person voting.
I think I heard you say, professor, that one of those methodologies is preferred by Democrats, the mail-in. And the in-person is more of a Republican historically means of getting out. What does that differentiation mean?
MCDONALD: Well, it means on balance that the early vote is more Democratic. And we still have a little bit more mail ballots to come back in. There's still about 34 million mail ballots that either haven't been processed by election officials or haven't been returned by voters yet. And so there's a little bit more gas in the tank there for the Democrats.
Early voting, in-person early voting is ending in many states or has already ending. So, you know, there's going to be some more play here for the Democrats in the early vote that Republicans are petering out at this point because the in-person option is going to go away and then we've got Election Day. And the big question is how big is that Election Day vote going to be?
Either, there are Republicans who are voting early. They're voting in- person early so there's going to be some -- we're going to have a high turnout election but there's obviously going to be less Election Day vote than we typically have in most states.
SMERCONISH: Professor Michael McDonald, thank you. Appreciate it.
MCDONALD: Great to be with you.
SMERCONISH: Checking in on Twitter and Facebook. What do we have? From the world of Twitter.
Smerconish, I believe the polls are tightening but I think early voting hurt Trump bigly.
Well, Glenn, you just heard from Professor Michael McDonald who tracks all of this stuff. I yield to his expertise. To me instinctively I like sport analogies. It is like the fourth quarter in the basketball game is starting and Trump's coming off the bench with a big deficit. He's going to have to run the table it would seem to make up for the discrepancies that we just saw in terms of how many Democrats and how many Republicans have already voted. Notwithstanding that many are splitting tickets and so forth. I get it.
I want to remind you to answer the survey question at Smerconish.com this hour. When are we going to know?
When will America learn the results of the presidential vote?
Still to come, even if Democrats do win the White House and the Senate, Ron Brownstein warns the GOP has already jerry-rig several blockades that could prevent the blue agenda from being implemented and he's here to explain.
SMERCONISH: If Democrats do win this election decisively, will they actually have enough power to neutralize Republicans? Not necessarily, says my next guest in his latest piece for "The Atlantic" "Why the 2020s Could Be as Dangerous as the 1850s." Ronald Brownstein is joining me now. He's the CNN senior political analyst who's also a senior editor at "The Atlantic."
How long can Paducah tell Seattle what to do? Explain, Ron.
RONALD BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look. I think the fundamental -- first of all, good morning, Michael.
I think the fundamental dividing line in American politics over the last 15 years or so especially under Donald Trump has become between the people and the places who are most comfortable with the way America is changing, evolving demographically, culturally and economically, and those who are most fearful and uneasy about the way America is changing.
And that this is the clear dividing line and in 2016 we saw Trump mobilize the parts of America that were most uneasy about the way that the country is changing. What I kind of summarized as Paducah and they achieved a victory over the parts of America that are immersed in the way the country is changing, Seattle.
I think this is going to be a very different election. I think we are going to see the emerging America come out in historic numbers to reclaim control of the country's direction in all likelihood. In 2016 Donald Trump lost 87 of the 100 largest counties in America. Lost them by a combined 50 million votes. He's going to lose probably over 90 of the 100 largest counties in America this time and lose them by many more votes. Maybe 18 or 19 million votes.
And economically in 2016 even while winning 2,600 of the 3,100 counties in America Trump counties accounted for only about one third of the GDP. In this election -- I think, you know, there's serious estimates that -- you look at the counties he's likely to lose. Trump will win terrain that accounts for only about 30 percent of the nation's total economic output.
So while it is possible, you know, we can't rule out that he will again mobilize kind of non-metro, non-urban America, the parts of America that are least touched by diversity to squeeze out a victory. I think, the overwhelming signal from this election is that he is exiling the Republican Party from the dynamic and growing places that basically are shaping America in the 21st century.
SMERCONISH: But, Ron -- Ron, you're going to bum out some Democrats who are hopeful, anticipating a victory not only the White House but maintaining --
SMERCONISH: -- control of the Congress and winning the Senate. And in this --
SMERCONISH: -- "Atlantic" piece you say be careful what you wish for, you're not going to get the policy changes that you're hoping for because there are institutional factors at play. What are they?
BROWNSTEIN: Another way of saying it is they are going to have to confront those institutional factors. Like obviously we have structural issues where Electoral College and the two senator per state rule benefits the states that are the least touched by the way America is changing and then it become more and more Republican, small interior states with large rural populations.
Then you have the filibuster in the Senate which magnifies the influence of those states as little as 11 percent are in practice. About one third of the country -- Senators representing about one third of the country can sustain a filibuster. And behind that you have a 6-3 Republican majority on the Supreme Court that on virtually every issue, Michael, from climate to racial equity to gay rights is going to find itself crosswise with the preferences of the Millennials and Generation Z that are rising to become the largest generation in the electorate.
Part of this transition that I talk about is that this year it ends a 40-year span in which Baby Boomers have been the largest generation of eligible voters. Now, Millennials and Generation Z equal them and they will exceed them by 2024. But in all of these structural ways there are kind of -- the kind of the minority has a tremendous opportunity to frustrate what I think is emerging as a national majority, Biden, if he wins the popular vote will be seven out of eight for Democrats, no party has ever done. So, Democrats are going to have to confront in all likelihood at some point in the 2020s all of these structural barriers if they are going to implement their agenda.
SMERCONISH: Here is the takeaway statistic. And I encourage everybody to read as always what Ron Brownstein writes. But you point out states with as little of 11 percent of the population can muster the 41 votes to maintain a filibuster. The final word is yours.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, you know, in the 1850s the Republican Party was emerging as a clear majority of the country as the voice of the north which was 70 percent of the population. The south was a receding minority but they had institutional barriers that allow them to block the agenda. Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices who decided -- Dred Scott in 1857 basically banning the platform of the Republican Party were appointed by earlier pro-slavery Democratic presidents.
We could see the same kind of conflict in the 2020s as this demographically swelling majority faces the obstacles that have been laid down by the other side and that I think is going to -- is going to present a real challenge. Also, if you have a political system in which the Democratic Party are embracing all of the diversity of the country and Republicans are receding in a way that is only representing the portions that are white America and are most uneasy about the changes that's a really explosive mix and both sides have an incentive to avoid that outcome.
SMERCONISH: A good thought piece again from Ron Brownstein. Thank you, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Michael. Happy Election Day.
SMERCONISH: You too. Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and we'll give you the final result -- have you voted at Smerconish.com?
When are we going to know the election results? Go vote right now.
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to this week's survey question at Smerconish.com. When will America know the results of the presidential election?
Survey says -- interesting, a plurality, 44 percent say it will be within three days, 26 percent say more than three days, 21 percent election night, nine percent the SCOTUS will have to decide, 22,000.
Thank you for casting ballots. What do we have from social media, Catherine? That was really interesting. Only 21 percent think then.
Almost everywhere I see there are sickening Trump signs. I've got a bad feeling that the polls could be off.
Sickening Trump signs. I guess, Jeff, that tells us exactly what you are thinking. Listen, we had a great conversation about all of the data that's out there and I am a total junkie reading all of it. Now, I'm going to sound cliche but it happens to make since in this instance. There's only one survey that matters. It is the one that is under way right now and will wrap up on Tuesday. And remember this, if you don't know the result on Tuesday night, it's not indicative of something having gone awry. It's just a faction of how many people are casting their ballots through different means than they normally do.
So go vote. See you.