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Trump vs. Biden: A UNF political science professor’s November forecast

Donald Trump and Joe Biden will face off in their first 2024 debate on Thursday. University of North Florida political science professor Michael Binder said this November’s election will be neck-and-neck.

Binder highlighted Pennsylvania as a critical player in the 2024 election and said there will likely be a wait for its vote count on election night.

“In all likelihood, it’s going to come down to a couple of states: your Pennsylvania, your Michigan, your Wisconsin and maybe a congressional district,” Binder said. “That could be a really important vote total for Biden.”

“Every state runs their elections differently, which complicates matters a great deal—particularly for how they handle absentee ballots,” he said. “Florida, for example, begins counting absentee ballots weeks before the election. Other states, like Pennsylvania, do not.”

Binder said Pennsylvania only begins counting absentee ballot votes on Election Day, which is why the results take so long each election.

“It has nothing to do with fraud. It has nothing to do with the election system itself. It’s all about what time the state allows you to start doing your job,” Binder added.

In this combination photo, President Joe Biden speaks May 2, 2024, in Wilmington, N.C., left, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, May 1, 2024, in Waukesha, Wis. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has not yet declared a running mate for his campaign. He must select a vice president sometime before the Republican National Convention on July 15.

Binder said people like Marco Rubio and Tim Scott have received a lot of attention as potential Trump running mate picks, but he would be surprised if Trump chose either.

“I just don’t think for a variety of different reasons … [these people] fit what Trump is looking for in a VP this time around,” Binder said. “I think Trump is going to look for a loyalist. That’ll be the driving factor.” 

“I think he’s looking for somebody that can go on Fox News or whatever media outlet and be a mouthpiece for his policies and agenda,” he said. “I just don’t know that Trump wants to have somebody that is essentially gunning for his job while they’re VP.”

Both Rubio and Scott had their turns at a presidential run.

Binder also commented on the support Trump has gained since his felony convictions last month. 

“[Trump’s] base didn’t view the criminal case as legitimate, and as such, any conviction that stems from that is to be ignored,” he said. “Democrats thought he was a criminal eight years ago, so this is nothing new. It’s validating for them. The question is, those folks in the middle, what does it do to them?”

Binder emphasized the importance of the moderate voters this year. He said Trump’s conviction may be enough to sway the 1 or 2% of voters needed to make a difference.

“In states like Michigan and Pennsylvania where 20 or 30,000 votes might be the difference, that’s something that can be meaningful and impactful,” he said.

Binder said that Trump’s convictions are certainly something Biden’s campaign will continue to lean on to win over votes. He thinks small numbers will make significant differences in November.

“Keep your eye on the Midwest,” Binder said. “Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin—If Biden can win those, he’s in really good shape. If he loses any one of those, he’s probably screwed.”

Trump and Biden’s first debate is next Thursday at 9 p.m. on CNN, live from Atlanta. ABC will host their second debate on September 10.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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Madelyn Schneider
Madelyn Schneider, News Editor

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