Here’s the bottom line: Polls are fallible, pollsters are fallible, and rigorous-but-fallible polls are still more instructive than none at all. What the rigorous-but-fallible polls show right now is that the race is far from over but also not spectacularly volatile to date. For all the day-to-day upheaval in Washington and beyond, national surveys — and voter appraisals of Mr. Trump — have often been remarkably consistent month over month.
Still, some meaningful shift in election dynamics, or even a modest polling error in the president’s direction, could make all the difference for him.
Why hasn’t Biden been doing more?
Intraparty back-seat driving is as rich a campaign tradition as rope-line handshakes and tributes to “the great state of” wherever. So it is no surprise that Democrats have wondered aloud, first quietly and then a little less quietly, about whether Mr. Biden has done enough to combat perceptions of his understated campaign schedule.
While his team has said it will continue to follow the pandemic science, Mr. Biden does plan to ramp up travel. On Monday, he delivered a speech in Pittsburgh. On Thursday, he and his wife, Jill Biden, will visit Kenosha, Wis., the site of simmering unrest after another police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake.
Mr. Biden probably would have accelerated his pace of campaigning anyway as the fall approached. But suffice to say his advisers heard the complaints.
What if Trump throws the results into chaos?
Democrats suspect his baseless attacks on mail balloting and his persistent conspiracy-mongering are designed to do just that, and the anxieties run along two tracks: Mr. Trump’s capacity to affect the election itself — by using the powers of his office to obstruct the voting process — and the possibility that he will move to undercut confidence in any final result he doesn’t care for. (This is a man who has questioned the veracity of an election he won.)
In an article today, my colleague Trip Gabriel detailed one Democratic (and small-d democratic) nightmare scenario: Mr. Trump declaring victory on election night when early results show him leading, before Mr. Biden overtakes him after mail-in votes are fully counted. Given Mr. Trump’s track record, this does not strike election experts as idle paranoia. Nor, frankly, do concerns about foreign interference playing a role once more.