By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Oct 26 | Amidst a rash of new polls giving Joe Biden the lead in must-win battleground states, a couple of outlier polls being swatted away as “crazy” by polling aggregators, continue to bet on a narrow path for a Donald Trump second term.
Both Florida and Pennsylvania are emerging as must-win states for Trump in his re-election bid. Seen another way, Trump must carry at least one of the three rustbelt states he won in 2016: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan. Pennsylvania, according to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight, has the highest chance of deciding the election.
Across 10 Florida polls conducted between October, 10 and October 23, Biden had a lead of anywhere between one and five points. Exactly two – Rasmussen Reports and Trafalgar Group – are putting their money on Trump.
Citing a “hidden vote”, Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly told Fox News he sees Trump being re-elected. Trafalgar’s polling in 2016 showed Trump leading in key battleground states including Pennsylvania and Michigan when the dominant narrative favoured Hillary Clinton. Trump won both those states and Wisconsin, becoming the first Republican nominee to do so in decades.
“Crazy” is how polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight describes the Trafalgar polls. “Trump is not going to win 30 percent of the Democratic vote in Michigan. Biden is not going to win 25 percent of Republicans. Trump is not going to win independents by 32 points.”
Trafalgar puts Trump ahead by two points in Florida. In the Rasmussen poll, Trump leads Biden by four points.
A poll of polls in Pennsylvania puts Biden ahead by 5.3 points (Real Clear Politics). Here, a dozen polls are all favoring Biden.
In Michigan, which is one of the six battlegrounds, Trafalgar favors Trump with a one point lead, seven other polls are leaning towards a Biden victory.
In North Carolina, Rasmussen and Trafalgar show Trump with a razor-thin lead, while six other polls favor Biden.
Biden leads by an average of 2.4 points in Arizona where four polls favor Biden and one from Susquehanna favors Trump by the slimmest of margins.
Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is famous for its razor thin margins and has gone to the winner of nearly every presidential race in the US. In 2000, Republican George W. Bush scraped past Al Gore by 537 votes after a recount in Florida.
Across the entirety of six battlegrounds that could tip a closely fought election, Biden continues to maintain a steady 4 point average lead against Trump. In all these three states, Hillary Clinton led in the polls in the final weeks of 2016 but went on to lose the electoral college to Trump.
There’s still a tiny opening left for another “October surprise” – the first was Trump’s Covid diagnosis on October 2, but one thing that’s different this time is the record number of votes already cast. Nationally, more than 59 million Americans voters have already voted which has crossed the total mail-in votes in 2016.
Six battlegrounds — Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona — account for more than 100 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. These aren’t all the battlegrounds but their competitive edge, taken together, usually tip US elections.