Trump adviser predicts Sunbelt sweep, misleads on post-election counting
Public polling shows Trump trailing Biden in several key battleground states.
Facing polls showing a competitive race in as many as a dozen different states, Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller offered an optimistic outlook on the presidential contest Sunday, predicting that a group of battleground states in the southern U.S. that President Donald Trump needs to secure re-election would all remain red.
"We feel very good. We think that President Trump is going to hold all the Sunbelt states that he won previously," Jason Miller said on ABC's "This Week," referring, chiefly, to Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, which represent a total of 71 electoral votes.
As a result of such a potential sweep, Miller told Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would have to win four other competitive states -- Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- combined with the results of the many states considered safe, to prevent the president from reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
The comments came despite public polling that shows Trump trailing Biden in several of those key battleground states. ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight's polling averages show Biden holding advantages in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and maintaining nearly nine-point leads in Michigan and Wisconsin -- two of the states Trump flipped on his way to defeating Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
On "This Week," Miller also referred to the potential for a "red mirage" -- the appearance of a Trump lead on Tuesday evening due to a quicker count of in-person Election Day votes. With Democrats more likely to cast ballots by mail, Biden supporters are concerned the president will preemptively declare victory.
“More than 92 million Americans have already voted. That’s well over half of the number that voted in 2016,” Stephanopoulos noted. “So given all that, what is your clearest path to 270 right now?”
"If you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe that President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electoral (votes) somewhere in that range, and then they're going to try to steal it back after the election," Miller said Sunday morning, misleadingly suggesting that early leads would guarantee Trump electoral votes and that all ballots arriving after Election Day are invalid.
Though many states' laws allow for the tabulation of votes prior to Election Day, 16 require the count to wait until Tuesday and 17 more prevent their tabulation until polls close. A number of states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania, provide several days for ballots postmarked by Tuesday to reach county clerk and election offices, and multiple Pennsylvania counties announced they will not begin to calculate their absentee results until Wednesday.
"We believe that we will be over 290 electoral votes on election night, so no matter what they tried to do, what kind of hijinks or lawsuits or whatever kind of nonsense they try to pull off, we're still going to have enough electoral votes to get President Trump re-elected," Miller continued, again denigrating the processes by which some may attempt to confirm their legal votes.
With two days to go until Election Day, Trump is maintaining a busy schedule. He is slated to attend 10 rallies in seven different states on Sunday and Monday and could add more travel on Tuesday before the returns are reported.
In elaborating upon his optimism, Miller pointed to several different demographic groups with whom he believes Trump will out-perform his numbers from four years ago.
"President Trump is going to get well over 10% of the Black vote. I think he'll get over 20% of African American men. President Trump will probably get 40% of the Latino vote," he said. "The entire demographic shift within these parties -- it's a different world now, George, and that's why we're trying to turn out our supporters. We feel good about it."
According to national exit polls, Trump garnered the support of 8% of Black voters, 13% of Black men, and 28% of Latino voters in 2016.
Miller further identified Nevada and Minnesota as a pair of Clinton-won states Trump could flip this year to make up for any potential disappointments in the Sunbelt region.
During the interview, Stephanopoulos additionally pressed Miller on Trump's unsubstantiated claims at recent campaign events that health care providers are misreporting COVID-19 death counts to receive additional funding.
"You know, our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right?" the president said at a rally in Michigan on Friday. "I mean, our doctors are very smart people ... so what they do is they say 'I'm sorry, but you know, everybody dies of COVID.'"
"Why does the president repeatedly attack doctors working on the frontlines saying they're inflating COVID numbers?" Stephanopoulos asked Miller.
"I don't think he was attacking anybody at all," Miller said. "I think there have been a number of reports that have raised issues out there regarding billing and things like that."
While it is true that the government provides hospitals with additional funds to treat coronavirus patients, including a 20% increase for Medicare recipients created through relief legislation earlier this year, that money is pegged to cases rather than deaths. There is additionally no evidence that the death toll is being inflated.
As for Trump's repeated claims that the U.S. is "rounding the corner" on the pandemic -- even, as Stephanopoulos noted, diagnoses continue to surge and a subsequent rise in hospitalizations and deaths has proven the case increase is not solely a product of more widespread testing -- Miller cited progress on a vaccine as rationale.
"We're right there on the cusp of having this vaccine finalized and ready for distribution," he said Sunday, nearly two months after the president expressed optimism about a vaccine's delivery "maybe even before Nov. 1st."
"We will have it done and start distributing it by the end of the year," Miller added.