Polls - US President - 2020-08-25 - Biden still leading, but by less, and there's a problem on the horizon

by Gary Hirsch (reviewed 2020-08-30: 1500 PDT)

The latest Presidential polls show Biden leading Trump by 8-12%. The only exception is a CNN/SSRS poll that shows Biden ahead of Trump by only 4%.1

The White House - who's next?

Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash)

As we’ve discussed and several recent op-ed pieces have reinforced, an 8-12% lead would normally be a comfortable one, but not this year. One op-ed piece presented a fairly elaborate scenario in which the outcome of the election is contested and thrown into the House of Representatives.2 That might sound like a good outcome since the Democrats hold a majority in the House, but according to these authors, that’s not the way it works.

Biden would have to win a majority (26) of the state congressional delegations. Right now, Republicans control the majority of state delegations. The authors goes on to identify critical House seats in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Montana that need to be flipped in order to bring those states’ delegations into the Democratic column and assure a favorable outcome for Biden. The authors of course say that the best way to avoid this situation is to make sure every vote is counted and every effort to suppress voting is neutralized.

Another analysis based on state-by-state polls and their effect on the electoral college is a little more encouraging.3 This analysis suggests that, based on these polls, when electoral votes are added up for states in which Biden or Trump has a lead or is leaning towards them, Biden would get 298 electoral votes vs. Trump’s 119, with the remaining 121 votes considered a toss-up. (270 are needed to win.) Polls show Biden with more than a 5 percentage point lead in battleground states such as Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Again, that would be a very comfortable lead under normal circumstances. However, we know that the Republicans are not planning to play fair. In Wisconsin for example, a key swing state, Biden polls at a 7 percentage point advantage. Though the Governor and Secretary of State are Democrats, the legislature is rabidly Republican and is constantly trying to change the rules and making it harder for people to vote. Efforts to assure that everyone gets to vote and every vote is counted are critical.

As far as age groups go, recent polls indicate that young people continue to favor Biden over Trump 58% to 24% with the strongest support for Biden among minority youth.4 Trends suggest that younger people became more engaged in the 2018 election and that will continue in 2020.

Seniors have undergone a big shift from 2016, going from 56-41 in favor of Trump to 50-45 in favor of Biden according to one poll.5 As we know, seniors vote in greater numbers than other age groups. Support for Democrats among college educated whites increased from 2016, going from 51% to 58% while support for Republicans went down from 42% to 37%. There also appears to be a small gain for Democrats among non-college educated whites.

The only group in which Democrats lost ground is in the Hispanic/Latino population where support went from 67% in 2016 to 58% in 2020 with most of the difference becoming undecided.

  1. (2020-08-25). 2020 Presidential Election Polls. CNN Politics. https://www.cnn.com/election/2020/presidential-polls ^

  2. Wirth, T.E. (2020-08-20). & Rogers, T. How to Defeat Trump’s Plan to Overturn the Election. Newsweek. https://apple.news/AYsFcnpwTRGmxw4XetyArxQ ^

  3. Biden vs Trump: who is leading the 2020 US election polls? Financial Times. Retrieved 2020-08-25 from https://ig.ft.com/us-election-2020/ ^

  4. (2020-06-20) Poll: Young People Believe they Can Lead Change in Unprecedented Election Cycle. Tufts University, Center for Information and Research Civic Learning and Engagement. https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/poll-young-people-believe-they-can-lead-change-unprecedented-election-cycle ^

  5. Wasserman, D. (2020-07-22). Who’s behind Trump’s big polling deficit? Two key groups defecting to Biden. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/who-s-behind-trump-s-big-polling-deficit-two-key-n1234605 ^


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