It is always a good training to think through campaign strategies for the side you would not vote for. In that sense, what would I do if I were part of the Trump campaign? In fact, there are plenty of things that Trump could have done in order not to be in the situation in which he is now, namely a vulnerable incumbent fighting for survival. He could have moved to the center and won this thing with 52%. But that train has definitely left the station.
The only strategy left right now is for Trump to do what he usually does: double down. Or, as his 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said: Let Trump be Trump.
The first thing I would tell Trump is to stop looking at nationwide polls. Remember that American presidential elections are not only about how many votes a candidate gets, but also about where he gets them. Screw the popular vote, this race is now all about the electoral college. And this is much closer than what the nationwide polls indicate. In North Carolina, the realclearpolitics average of polls has Biden leading by a meager 0.9%, in Michigan by 4.8%, in Pennsylvania by 4%, and in Florida by +1.6. Let us also not forget that there are not only the much talked about states that Trump won by a small margin in 2016. There are also a number of states that he lost by only a slim margin. For example, Clinton won New Hampshire by less than 3’000 votes, and Nevada with less than 30’000 votes.
If Trump’s strategy is to divide and conquer, it is also clear how Trump will handle the replacement of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Republicans believe that the confirmation of Brett Kavanagh has helped them mobilize their base in 2018. And indeed, Republicans in 2018 outperformed the polls on election day (yet again). There might be several reasons for this: the pollsters didn’t learn the right lessons from their mistakes in 2016, the Republican ground game was better than the Democratic one, or the Kavanagh effect. Either way, get ready for a very divided and polarized country to get even more divided and polarized. Now even more, both sides will fight tooth and nail for the next few months.