The Department of Political Science held an online forum Tuesday in which three USC political science professors gave their predictions and insights for Election Day.
Associate political science professor Todd Shaw said Biden is “fairly competitive” in Florida and Georgia and has a "comfortable lead" over Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He said Trump has recently taken a more widespread lead in Texas over Biden.
"So, for President Trump, it would be Florida, Georgia and Texas, those are some sort of key states that will give indications of his likelihood of being re-elected. For Biden, it's what we have often called the 'Blue Wall' of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and then we also sort of throw in Minnesota," Shaw said.
Shaw said 2020 is likely to be a record turnout for voters due to the prevalence of vote-by-mail and “about 45% of the total votes cast in 2016” have already been cast, with six days until Election Day.
Shaw said Biden's campaign got ahead in polls during the summer as a result of social unrest, COVID-19 and a struggling economy. He said Biden's "path to 270," the amount of electoral votes needed to get the presidency, is "wider" than Trump's because he leads Trump in national polls.
Political science professor Robert Oldendick talked about congressional races, including the Senate race in South Carolina between Jaime Harrison and incumbent Lindsey Graham.
“Jaime Harrison has raised a tremendous amount of money,” Oldendick said. “By the time we get to the end of this race, Harrison will have set the bar for most money raised in a Senate race by a pretty impressive factor.”
Despite Harrison’s monetary achievement, Oldendick said he believes Graham will remain in the Senate due to the fact that Trump will most likely win South Carolina and the prevalence of straight-ticket voters in the state.
Oldendick said he does not predict that the Democratic Party will win the majority in the Senate due to Montana and North Carolina most likely electing their Republican candidates. However, he had a different prediction for the House.
“The conclusion that we are going to reach is that Democrats are likely to retain majority control of the House of Representatives,” Oldendick said. “Of the three elections — the presidency, the Senate and the House — this is the one I’m most confident in.”
Jessica Schoenherr, an assistant political science professor, provided insight into the Supreme Court and the recent appointment of Justice Barrett. Barrett began her duties as a justice Tuesday.
"The Supreme Court is unable to enforce its rulings, and it actually depends on the popularly elected branches to do that part of its job. The popularly elected branches will do it, as long as the court looks legitimate, and the court's legitimacy is based on a lot of different factors, but it ultimately mostly comes down to people believing that the Supreme Court's rulings are fair and that they're made based on some set of systematic rules," Schoenherr said.
Schoenherr said according to a nationally representative sample, 50% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans and 37% of Independents said the Supreme Court appointments were "very important" when voting for a candidate. She also said 92% of Democrats and 66% of Independents believed the winner of the election should have filled the vacant Supreme Court seat.