New swing state polls show a strong path for Biden — but also highlight his most worrying areas

New swing state polls show a strong path for Biden — but also highlight his most worrying areas
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour/Gage Skidmore

Although President Donald Trump is unlikely to win the popular vote in the 2020 election, liberal/progressive filmmaker and activist Michael Moore is warning — rightly so — that Trump could pull off another victory in the Electoral College if former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign doesn’t pay close attention to key swing states. The documentarian warned presciently in 2016 that Trump could win Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — precisely the states that secured his victory.

With the 2020 Republican National Convention now over, a new slate of swing state polls offers insight into Biden's path for victory. But the results aren't entirely straightforward — while some of the findings indicate Biden's strength, others show potential weakness in key areas that his campaign would be wise to shore up.

According to Morning Consult, Trump appears ahead in Ohio — where he now leads Biden by 5%. Previous Morning Consult polls found Trump and Biden virtually tied in the Buckeye State before the Republican National Convention.

But some of the Morning Consult polls offered much better news for Biden, who is now leading Trump by 10% in Michigan, Arizona and Colorado and by 9% in Wisconsin. He's even up by 3 points in Georgia, a red state that Biden doesn't need to win at all. If Biden wins Georgia, he has almost certainly won the whole race.

Yet other Morning Consult polls show a tight race in states more likely to be key to a Biden victory — Biden is only ahead by 4% in Pennsylvania and 2% in Florida. He's also leading by 2% in North Carolina.

Overall, if these were the final results on Election day, Biden would win a 349-189 Electoral College landslide over Trump. But the margins are close enough in key states that minor polling errors and shifts in the race could bring Trump within spitting distance of securing re-election. On the other hand, if Biden's margins increase in places like Ohio and Texas, his defeat of Trump would be devastating.

Nationally, Morning Consult found Biden leading Trump by 8% — and that includes a “12-point lead among women,” an “11-point lead among independent voters” and an “11-point lead among voters in the suburbs.” Trump certainly knows he's losing these groups — he has recently posted an abundance of racist fear-mongering tweets claiming that all hell will break loose in suburbia if Biden is elected president.

A poll taken by The Hill and HarrisX during the 2020 RNC found Biden leading Trump by 9% nationally. But other national polls released in late August found Biden ahead by 2% (Emerson College), 4% (RMG Research) or 6% (Yahoo/YouGov).

Whether Biden or Trump wins Pennsylvania will have a lot to do with who votes in the Keystone Stone. A heavy turnout in Democrat-dominated, densely populated Philadelphia would give Biden an advantage; Philly Proper is so Democratic that it hasn’t had a GOP mayor since the early 1950s. But in GOP-friendly Central Pennsylvania — or as Pennsylvanians jokingly call it, Pennsyltucky — a heavy turnout could favor Trump, who performed well in that part of the state in 2016. Polls released in late August found Biden leading in Pennsylvania by 7% (Franklin & Marshall) or 9% (GQR Research).

Florida could be another nail-biter. A CNBC/Change Research poll released in late August found Biden leading in the Sunshine State by only 3%.

Amazingly, polls are still showing that Texas, a light red state, is in play for Biden. Although Texas’ large urban centers such as Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso lean Democrat, Republicans have had an advantage in statewide races. Yet Morning Consult found that Biden is trailing Trump by only 1% in the Lone Star State.

Saying that Biden is trying to appeal to a very big tent is no exaggeration. The former vice president has been endorsed by everyone from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (both self-described “democratic socialists”) to centrist Blue Dog Democrats like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Amy Klobuchar to right-wing conservatives who include The Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump, former Sen. Jeff Flake and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (one of the speakers at the 2020 DNC).

But all those endorsements won’t put Biden in the White House in 2021 if he doesn’t perform well in enough swing states.

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