Trump now trails significantly in 2016’s most pivotal state

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We still have over four months to go, so there’s time for things to change.

But for now, Biden is up significantly in the states most likely to determine the outcome of the 2020 election, including the pivotal state of Wisconsin.

The polls released on Thursday by The New York Times and Siena College are the latest evidence of Trump’s troubles. They polled the six closest swing states won by Trump in 2016: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Biden was ahead by between 6 points (Florida) and 11 points (Michigan and Wisconsin) in all of them.

On average, Biden led by 9 points across these six states. Trump carried them by an average of 2 points in 2016, so these represent an 11-point movement in Biden’s direction from the 2016 baseline. That is similar to the average state poll we’ve seen since the protests against police brutality and racism following George Floyd’s death.

Again, what’s important to recognize here is that these polls are not outliers and are merely the newest manifestation of this trend. They look a lot like what we’d expect given the average. We can see this best in Wisconsin.

Three different pollsters who use live interviewers and call cell phones have conducted surveys there in the last month. In addition to the New York Times/Siena poll, Fox News and Marquette University Law School also surveyed voters in the state.

Fox and Marquette put Biden up by 9 points each in Wisconsin. Averaging the three polls, Biden has a 10-point advantage.

These three pollsters have shown a significant shift to Biden from the last time they polled the race. The average of each pollster’s prior survey in the state had Biden leading by a mere 4 points, so he’s more than doubled his edge.

Why am I harking on Wisconsin so much? It’s because it was arguably 2016’s most pivotal state. Wisconsin was the “tipping point state” in the Electoral College (i.e. represented the state that contained median electoral vote plus 1). It will be tough for Trump to win in 2020 without carrying Wisconsin.

Indeed, as I wrote a few weeks ago when examining the national polls, Trump cannot count on the electoral college to save him given the national political environment. It’s clearer than ever that this is true.
More broadly speaking, the Wisconsin numbers make clear that his messaging is currently failing him. Much of Trump’s 2020 strategy has revolved around appealing to White voters without a degree, a group that makes up the majority of the Wisconsin electorate.
Biden is ahead by about a point among voters lacking a college degree in the New York Times poll of Wisconsin. The last time the Times surveyed the race there, Biden trailed by about 4 points among this bloc. Combine that with a Biden blowout of more than 30 points with Wisconsin voters with a college degree, and it puts Biden in the driver’s seat.
The Wisconsin polls are generally reflective of what we’re seeing throughout the country. Biden’s extending his lead because he’s doing better among White voters. The protests have had relatively limited impact on who Black and Hispanic voters are supporting. There has not been a backlash from white voters to the nationwide protests so far.

And unless something changes, Biden is on a straight path to taking the White House.

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