The 2020 campaigns and political pundits have been reticent to use the “L” word before Tuesday’s election between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, for good reason.
Despite Biden’s steady, high single-digit national polling lead throughout the cycle, Democrats, in particular, don’t want to discuss the prospect of a landslide victory in their candidate’s favor.
But with late state-based polls muddying the political landscape two days before the Nov. 3 contest, it’s no wonder Democrats are worried Trump may still get a second term.
Specifically, Florida polls this weekend provided an unclear snapshot of the White House race in that crucial battleground state, which offers the nominees 29 electoral votes.
On Sunday, a New York Times and Siena College poll found Biden was ahead of Trump in Florida by 3 percentage points, 47% to 44%. But that survey was published hours after an ABC News and Washington Post poll that had Trump in front by 2 percentage points, 48% to 50%.
Trump clinched Florida in 2016 by a little more than a point.
Weekend polls of Iowa, a state with six electoral votes that Trump dominated in four years ago, were also mixed.
While the Trump team’s internal concern regarding the president’s standing in Iowa was evident by his multiple trips to the state, Emerson College released a poll on Sunday that found Trump had a 2-percentage-point lead, 49% to 47%. That survey followed Selzer & Co.’s famed Iowa Poll handing him a 7-percentage-point advantage, 41% to 48%.
After investing time and money trying to rebuild the so-called blue wall that runs through Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Biden’s campaign in a strong polling position in those states ahead of this Tuesday.
But in other states that 2016 Democratic standard-bearer Hillary Clinton carried, Biden only has a narrow edge. On Sunday, Emerson College, for instance, had Biden in front in Nevada by 2 percentage points, 49% to 47%. Clinton earned the state’s six electoral votes by the same margin.
And then in “reach” states, such as Arizona, talk of Biden becoming the first Democrat to claim the state and its 11 electorate votes since 1996 ought to include a conversation about weekend polling that suggested he’s only leading by between 2 to 6 points.
The same can be said of Ohio, a Republican never winning the White House without its 18 electoral votes. Although Emerson College on Sunday had Biden ahead by a single point, most other pollsters have Trump in front by more.
Democrats are wary of optimism, countering complacency fears by dredging up bad memories of last cycle when Clinton was the overwhelming favorite. But this year’s contest is fundamentally different. Trump’s no longer an insurgent candidate or an unknown quantity. And Biden isn’t Clinton, dragged down by distrust and disdain.
FiveThirtyEight projects Biden has an 89% chance of winning 270 electoral votes next week, the election forecaster predicting Trump has a 10% of winning a second term.
The Cook Political Report lists Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas as toss-up states, as well as Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. The prognosticator has Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin leaning toward Biden, in addition to Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.