Joe Biden continues to post solid polling numbers in battlegrounds Wisconsin and Michigan but in Pennsylvania—the state most likely to decide the election—the margin is closer, meaning the candidate may need to expand the map and pull of other victories in southern battlegrounds to win in November.

Key Facts

An ABC News/Washington Post poll out Wednesday showed Biden ahead by a whopping 17 points in Wisconsin (57%-40%) and 7 points in Michigan (51%-44%).

The Wisconsin result is likely an outlier, but Biden does lead by 9.1 points on average there, and 8 points on average in Michigan.  

Pennsylvania is a different story: Biden’s average lead has dropped from 7.3 points in the state on October 11, to just 5.1 points on Wednesday. 

Experts say the Keystone State is most likely to be the “tipping point” in the election, and both candidates are treating it as such, pouring money and spending more time there than any other battleground.  

A loss in Pennsylvania is not insurmountable for Biden, but it does make things much more precarious: FiveThirtyEight’s model shows that if Biden wins Michigan and Wisconsin but loses Pennsylvania, his chance of winning drops from 88% to 45%. 

Trump, alternatively, has almost no path to winning reelection without Pennsylvania: according to FiveThirtyEight’s model, he stands less than a 1% possibility of winning if he loses the Keystone State, Wisconsin and Michigan (his chance of winning stands at just 2% with a loss in Pennsylvania, without factoring in Wisconsin and Michigan.) 

Key Background 

Polls in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2016 gave Hillary Clinton the edge, but Trump ended up winning all three narrowly en route to an upset victory. This year, Biden leads by a wider margin than Clinton did in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—and the polling results are much steadier. However, in Pennsylvania, the margin between 2016 and 2020 is tight: according to Nate Silver of FivethirtyEight, polls were off by 4.4 points in Pennsylvania in 2016, while Biden leads by just 5.1 points now. 

What To Watch For 

If Biden loses Pennsylvania, he still has other paths to victory. Polls show him narrowly ahead in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. The Biden campaign also has longshot hopes of flipping Texas and Georgia (a victory in either state would almost ensure a Biden victory.) A Monmouth University poll out Wednesday showed Biden up 5 points in Georgia (50%-45%), and the Democratic nominee leads by 1.4 points in the state on average. Biden leads If Trump loses Pennsylvania, he would likely have to win at least four other battlegrounds. One narrow path to victory for Trump would be to lose Pennsylvania and Arizona, but hold on to Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina, as well as other states he won in 2016. 


A Marquette Law poll of Wisconsin released Wednesday found Biden leading Trump by 5 points (48%-43%.)

Surprising Fact

Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are both scheduled to make stops in Georgia and Texas this week, a sign the campaign is serious about picking up one or both of the states.

Further Reading

Today’s 2020 Election Polls: Even GOP-Friendly Surveys Give Biden The Edge In Several Battlegrounds (Forbes)

Today’s 2020 Election Polls: Biden And Trump Neck And Neck In Georgia And Texas (Forbes)

Today’s 2020 Election Polls: Biden Bolsters Lead In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin And Michigan (Forbes)

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