With just over two weeks to go until Election Day, there is no evidence of a significant shift in survey results at the national, state and district level—with polling averages continuing to point to an overwhelming lead for Joe Biden nationally, and a modest lead in battleground states, an indication there may be narrowing room for a repeat upset by President Trump, barring a major event that shakes up the race.
While Trump could still win, there has yet to be a late polling shift in his direction like there was in 2016—though that could change over the next two weeks.
Biden continues to lead by around 9-10 points nationally on average, with no significant dip in Trump’s direction in weeks (in fact, if there’s been a recent polling “shift,” it’s been towards Biden.)
In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s average polling lead nationally—which was much more volatile than Biden’s—peaked late on October 18 at 7.1 points, before dropping precipitously until it reached just 1.3 points on November 3, days before Election Day.
Biden’s lead in battleground states has remained steadier than Clinton’s: the former vice president leads by 7.2 points on average in Michigan, 6.1 points in Wisconsin, 3.9 points in Arizona, and 2.7 points in North Carolina (two exceptions are Florida and Pennsylvania, where Biden’s lead has narrowed slightly in the last week.)
Clinton’s average lead in Pennsylvania and Michigan dropped steadily after early to mid October and decreased slightly in Wisconsin, three states she ended up losing to Trump narrowly and costing her a chance at the White House.
Biden’s lead has not fallen off in local districts either, according to Dave Wasserman, a polling expert at the Cook Political Report, with the Democratic nominee “outperforming Clinton’s margins by 8-10 points” in several key battleground districts (Wasserman says he noticed a “shift” in 2016 when Trump increased his lead with white working class voters in local districts, a phenomenon that has yet to happen in 2020)
A YouGov/CBS News poll out Sunday found Biden ahead by 5 points in Wisconsin (51%-46%) and 3 points in Arizona (50%-47%).
Nate Silver, a polling expert and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, wrote on Twitter Sunday that a 10 point national lead for Biden “isn’t safe” because his lead is “closer in the swing states,” there’s still “some time for the race to tighten,” and “polls can be wrong.”
Experts are mixed about why Clinton’s lead evaporated in the final two weeks of the campaign, though several point to the moment then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was relaunching the probe into Clinton’s email server, thrusting the story back into the headlines. In 2016, both candidates were extremely unpopular, and there were large numbers of undecided voters, making the race volatile and ripe for an upset. In the end, many undecided voters flocked to Trump in the remaining days of the race, several polling analysts have since concluded.
What To Watch For
According to polling results, Biden is competing with Trump in more states than Clinton did in 2016. Even if Biden loses Pennsylvania and Florida, but flips Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nebraska’s second congressional district (Nebraska awards electoral votes based on district, not by winner-take-all), he would still win the White House.
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