In the wake of June 2016's shocking Brexit result, there was a brief period when I was no longer considered to be some sort of madman from the hills. Thanks to the referendum, clear evidence existed that my long-standing antipathy towards Britain's membership in the European Union was shared by the majority of voters. Euroskepticism was not the preserve of some lunatic fringe—it was a reality. Members of the mainstream media had been proved wrong. Their reluctant acceptance of an "alternative" political position winning the day did not last long, however.
Two months later, in August 2016, I appeared on stage with Donald Trump, the presidential candidate for the Republican Party, at a rally in Mississippi. After this, the mainstream media reverted to type, with various commentators deciding that they had been right about me all along. Clearly, they thought, I was a little bit bonkers if I believed that this brash New York businessman had a chance of making it to the White House. Indeed, I well remember then-Prime Minister Theresa May giggling like a schoolgirl when I spoke at a political awards dinner in London and predicted Trump's victory. We all know who had the last laugh there.
The atmosphere, so far this year, is not dissimilar to that of 2016. Many political analysts have stated with great glee that Trump will lose; they have knocked him for his Axios interview, and they have said they look forward to the resumption of "normal service." Well, I'm willing to stick my neck out again and predict that Trump will win on November 3, 2020.
There has never been a president so assailed from all sides, even before he took the oath at his inauguration. From the Russia conspiracy to the impeachment process, every attempt has been made to delegitimize the 45th president of the United States. Yet through it all, despite his own huge personal frustration, the man has been as solid as a rock. Unlike the careerists Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Trump has regarded pledges made during the 2016 election campaign as promises, and has kept his word as far as circumstances have allowed—although if he is to achieve his ambition of draining the Swamp properly, he will certainly need a second term.
His core supporters hugely respect him. They trust his management of the economy, and they are as fanatical today about their man as they were four years ago. That the Trump base is holding firm is not in doubt. But is it enough to win?
The view from the many commentators who see Joe Biden's victory as somehow inevitable seems to rest on national opinion polls that have seen his lead as high as 11 points. This week, the Democratic Party will anoint Biden as its official presidential nominee, but American presidential elections are decided on a state-by-state basis—not by the popular vote. Even if Trump loses California by many millions of votes, therefore, it doesn't matter, as he would never win that state anyway. The key swing states will decide this contest, and the president is in play in all of them.
The fact is that in 2016, the pollsters were wrong about Brexit, and they were wrong about Trump. Why? One simple part of the answer to that question is that so many voters were shy of telling these opinion-gatherers their true feelings. Given the hysteria of the last few months, I would argue that an even greater number of people may be scared to express any conservative beliefs on a wide range of topics, distorting the polls in the process.
My clear observation is that national polls should not be trusted. Instead, we should all look at the relative levels of voter enthusiasm when they are measured. The most extraordinary statistic among those who say they will vote for Biden is that half of them claim their primary motive for doing so is a dislike of Trump. In other words, pollsters' own data suggests that half of Biden's vote is negative.
I have seen this data in private polling. It shows a distinct lack of enthusiasm for and confidence in Biden's ability to discharge his duties as would-be president of the United States of America. I am not surprised. The truth is that he is past it. He is not up to the job. He is wholly unfit for high office, and the voters can see it. Despite the coronavirus crisis limiting campaigning, there is no doubt that Trump will want to storm around the country. Biden, however, is showing every sign of wanting to spend as much at time as possible in his Delaware bunker. As for Biden's decision to pick Kamala Harris to be his running mate, it may seem to some to be sound—but she is a California Democrat. Will she have much to offer those who live in Midwestern states and who care mostly about jobs? I doubt it. Similarly, her green credentials may play well on the West Coast, but what about in the Rust Belt?
There are, of course, other things that also suggest Trump will win in November. For the last 60 years, one of the principal factors in determining American opinion in presidential elections has been TV debates. I believe that Trump will crush Biden in these contests. Whether you support him or not, his quick-wittedness cannot be denied. By contrast, Biden gives the impression of being a man who doesn't quite know where he is. There is even speculation that "Slow Joe" could duck out of these debates, and that somehow this would save him, but that would surely lead only to national derision.
Above all else, though, the economy will prove decisive—specifically, who can best overcome the large-scale unemployment inflicted on the U.S. as a result of the global downturn. And I am certain that in this, Trump the entrepreneur will be preferred over Biden the Capitol Hill veteran. Of those who vote on November 3, I am convinced that Trump will win the most votes, state-by-state, in the Electoral College. His handling of the COVID-19 crisis may have won few plaudits, but his voters are sure to back him on the day.
The only dark cloud that I can see on the horizon relates to the early mail-in voting process. I have witnessed first-hand the wholesale abuse of the postal voting system in the United Kingdom, and the overwhelming advantage it has given to the British Labour Party. Trump is right to sound the alarm on this scandal-in-the-making—not just for his benefit, but for the integrity of the democratic system itself. If Trump were to win on the day, but then lost a few weeks later after every mail-in vote had been counted, the implications for political stability in America would be profound.
Nigel Farage is senior editor-at-large of Newsweek's "The Debate" platform.
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.