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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Back in June, President Trump took to Twitter to blast his 2020 opponent.

“Sleepy Joe Biden refuses to leave his basement ‘sanctuary’ and tell his Radical Left bosses that they are heading in the wrong direction,” Mr. Trump wrote.


In September, Mr. Trump wrote: “Basement Biden is no longer playing well in the polls!”

And just this week during a raucous campaign speech, Mr. Trump had a field day mocking the 77-year-old Democratic presidential nominee.

“Unlike Joe, where he goes into a basement, if he loses, and you know, who knows what happens right? It’s called an election. He should be ashamed of himself because he didn’t work. No, seriously. He didn’t work. One thing, I did five, six and sometimes seven of these in one day those last few days,” Mr. Trump said during a campaign rally in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

For the last few months, Republicans have mused that maybe Mr. Biden really did plan to stay in his basement in his Wilmington, Delaware, mansion for the rest of the campaign. The thinking was simple: Mr. Biden’s leading in nearly every national poll; Mr. Trump continues to be divisive in his tweets and speeches; and, frankly, Mr. Biden’s habit of garbling words and misspeaking was just too dangerous. So just hunker down.

Now, it turns out, the Biden Basement Strategy really IS real.

Take a look at what the two candidates did last weekend. On Saturday, Mr. Trump jumped out of bed early in West Palm Beach, Fla.; took a motorcade to a polling site to cast his early-voting ballot; jetted to Fayetteville, N.C., for a campaign rally; flew over to Columbus, Ohio, for another packed rally; and then headed off to Milwaukee for a third “Make America Great” rally. He then went home, arriving at the White House after midnight.

Mr. Biden, meanwhile, went to two lightly attended drive-in rallies in Pennsylvania, calling it a day in mid-afternoon.

On Sunday, Mr. Biden called a “lid” at 11:27 a.m., meaning reporters covering his campaign wouldn’t see him. Mr. Trump, though, headed out at 10:30 a.m., flying aboard Air Force One to New Hampshire for a crowded rally, then went to Maine, where he hopes to win a couple of Electoral College votes.

Tuesday was much the same: Mr. Trump held a rally in Lansing, Michigan, followed by another in West Salem, Wisconsin, both key battleground states. He was still going at 9 p.m. EDT, holding a rally Omaha, Nebraska. He plans several more rallies out west on Wednesday.

Mr. Biden, meanwhile, held two events in Georgia, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. The candidate was done for the day about 6 p.m. His current schedule has no events set for Wednesday.

Mr. Trump on Sunday blasted Mr. Biden for his “lids.”

“This guy has more lids, I don’t know, there’s something going on. Somebody said it’s strategy, it’s not, because really strategy would be coming out,” Mr. Trump said in New Hampshire. “Do you think that Sleepy Joe would be doing these things? I don’t think so. He’ll go back to bed. Hillary [Clinton] used to spend a lot of time in bed, too. But she had more energy than him. She did.”

Election experts said Mrs. Clinton’s decision not to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan in the waning days of the 2016 election cost her both states.

“I’ve never seen a campaign like this,” Virgie Rollins, a Democratic National Committee member and longtime political hand in Michigan, told Politico after the 2016 election. “When you don’t reach out to community folk and reach out to precinct campaigns and district organizations that know where the votes are, then you’re going to have problems.”

While the national polls show Mr. Biden with a hefty lead, most pollsters got it wrong in 2016, so Mr. Biden might want to ignore those numbers.

But Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly was one of the few who got it mostly right. His group’s polling in 2016 showed Mr. Trump leading Mrs. Clinton in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan on the eve of the election. Mr. Trump won all three, despite most polls saying he would lose the states.

And note to Democrats: Mr. Cahaly said last week that Mr. Trump is poised to do it again and will top the number of Electoral College votes needed to win re-election.

“I see the president winning with a minimum of high 270s and possibly going up significantly higher based on just how big this undercurrent is,” Mr. Cahaly said on Fox News.

“What we’ve noticed is that these polls are predominantly missing the hidden Trump vote, what [we] refer to as the shy Trump voter,” he said. “There is a clear feeling among conservatives and people that are for the president that they’re not interested in sharing their opinions so readily on the telephone.”

We’ll all know the results in a week (or a month, or by Jan. 20, 2021, anyway). Perhaps Joe’s basement strategy will work out.

But it sure didn’t for Hillary.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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