Biden Losing Ground in Swing States

About a month ago, we wrote that Joe Biden was sitting pretty in key swing states. Donald Trump’s inaction and incompetence with COVID-19 thrust Biden into solid polling advantages in the places most likely to decide the election. That was always temporary, though—anything can happen in a month or even a week to shift things dramatically in one direction or another.

Four weeks and two political conventions later, Biden’s numbers aren’t quite as forgiving. The former VP has lost notable ground in almost every swing state (as identified by the Cook Political Report) and fallen further behind in “Lean Republican” states. The numbers are all well within the margin of error, and can be at least partially attributed to a bump following the Republican National Convention. Still, Trump’s improvement in states that won him the White House in 2016 should concern Democratic pollsters—but some in the Biden camp are treating it like a blip.

That attitude won’t comfort concerned voters who are glancing at state polls every few minutes like an out-of-town scoreboard during a pennant race. Below, we’ve gathered Real Clear Politics’ current polling averages in swing states and compared them to the same numbers from a month ago.

Swing States

 

Arizona

2016 Result: Trump +3.5
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Biden +3.7
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Biden +5.0
Electoral Votes: 11

Florida

2016 Result: Trump +1.2
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Biden +6.2
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Biden +3.3
Electoral Votes: 29

Michigan

2016 Result: Trump +0.3
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Biden +7.8
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Biden +2.6
Electoral Votes: 16

North Carolina

2016 Result: Trump +3.7
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Biden +4.5
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Biden +0.6
Electoral Votes: 15

Pennsylvania

2016 Result: Trump +0.7
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Biden +6.0
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Biden +4.2
Electoral Votes: 20

Wisconsin

2016 Result: Trump +0.7
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Biden +5.0
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Biden +4.0
Electoral Votes: 10

 

“Lean Republican” States

Georgia

2016 Result: Trump +5.1
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Trump +1.6
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Trump +1.3
Electoral Votes: 16

Texas

2016 Result: Trump +9.0
2020 Polling, Aug. 6: Trump +0.2
2020 Polling, Sept. 3: Trump +3.5
Electoral Votes: 38

Democrats learned the hard way about underestimating poll shifts four years ago, particularly in tight states. Most media pollsters continue to express caution—even two months out, it’s way too early to say where the numbers will end up or even how accurate some of the polling is. Many outlets reported a major Trump bump following the RNC, only for the polling to level out back to their pre-convention position a week later. Some, like The Economist’s G. Elliot Morris, point out that the poll “tightening” in the Upper Midwest began well before convention season, and while he’s closed the gap, Trump is still the “clear underdog.” But that doesn’t mean everything isn’t up in the air.

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