President Donald Trump has shrunk former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in the presidential race over the last few months. The overall dynamics of this race remain unchanged, however. Despite Biden’s edge creeping down, he continues to hold a clear advantage.
A new Fox News poll out Sunday morning illustrates that trend well. It put Biden ahead 51% to 46% among both likely and registered voters. Fox had Biden up 49% to 41% back in July. Take a look at how the average live interview polls have moved during the same period. Biden was up about 50.5% to 40% in July.
Today, it’s Biden with a little bit more than 50% and Trump with a little bit more than 43%. In other words, Biden’s lead is down about 3 points from its peak.
Even so, Biden isn’t losing any supporters. He’s still at or slightly above 50%. This is a mark Hillary Clinton never hit this late in the 2016 campaign. Trump’s making up ground by picking up some Republicans who weren’t as hot on him mid-summer. In the Fox News poll, he’s picked up 6 points among Republicans since July, while picking up no ground with Democrats.
Perhaps, most importantly, there are no signs that the race is all that different than the one we saw before the death of George Floyd in Minnesota in late May. Biden seemed to receive a bump in the polls following the police killing of Floyd and the protests in the streets that followed. Now, it seems the race has reverted to where it was in May.
The average of live interview polls that month had Biden up 49% to 42%. That’s the same 7 point margin we see now, but with perhaps a few less undecided voters. You would expect that given we’re much closer to the election. This 7 point Biden advantage is exactly where the long-term average of polls since the beginning of the year put the race.
Indeed, shifts of a few points in the national polls are to be expected during the course of the campaign. What makes this year’s race so unique is how little the polls actually have changed. Big movement in polls usually would mean double-digit shifts. We’re talking about 3 points of movement in the case of the 2020 campaign. Of course, presidential elections in this country are not determined by the popular vote winner. You need to win in the Electoral College.
To that end, the polls out this weekend largely reflect what the national polling shows: Biden doing significantly better than Clinton did in 2016. Yesterday, I noted that Biden was doing a little better than 5 points than Clinton across four states (Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin) the New York Times/Siena College poll conducted surveys in.
New polls out Sunday from CBS News/YouGov indicate the same phenomenon. In Arizona, it’s Biden 47% to Trump’s 44% among likely voters (a result within the margin of error). In Minnesota, it’s Biden 50% to Trump’s 41%.
Remember, Clinton lost Arizona by 4 points and won Minnesota by just 2 points in 2016. These polls show Biden doing about 7 points better than Clinton on average in these states. Zooming out and looking at the entire electoral map allows us to see the true extent of Biden’s edge.
If each candidate won the state they were leading in right now in the polling averages, Biden would take north of 330 electoral votes. He only needs 270 electoral votes to win. If you only gave Biden the states where he is at 50% or higher and has a 5 point or greater lead, he’d still have over 270 electoral votes.
Obviously, this could change in the coming weeks. Trump better hope it does, as polls become a lot more predictive by the end of September. For now, though, the bottom line is that Biden is clearly ahead with just about 50 days to go until Election Day.