Is it time to freak out? Here's what the polls say this week about the state of the presidential race

Is it time to freak out? Here's what the polls say this week about the state of the presidential race
Photo via Screengrab.

Welcome to my weekly roundup of state presidential polls, a feature of whose future is coming to an end at seemingly terrifyingly speed. Remember back when people would answer every poll with "it's way too early to look at polls!" Then there was that primary thing were everyone argued for a long time. And now? Here we are. At election's eve. Finally able to deliver a message to Donald Trump the only way he'll (maybe) listen: with a vote.

We always start with a look at the national poll trends, using The Economist's polling aggregate.

(The Economist)

Biden's current 54.3%-45.7% lead, or +8.6 points, is actually up a smidgeon from last week's 54.2% to 45.8%, or 8.4 points. Really, it's all float. The reality, and you can see it in the chart above, is that the race hasn't fundamentally budged in a while, not since September, really.

It feels like we're on the precipice of something amazing. It's no accident that Texas is competitive. The national numbers have swung nearly nine points toward the Democrats. How much did Trump win Texas by in 2016? Nine points. This stuff isn't rocket science.

We're already headed toward a real good night. But if we could shift those numbers 1-2 more points? That good night could become epic. Those 1-2 points could be the difference between a 50-50 Senate, and a 55-45 Democratic majority with victories in states like Alaska, Kansas, South Carolina, and Texas. We are so close to blowing this wide open. But also so close to seeing the pendulum swing back toward the GOP by 1-2 points, and taking those tough red-state Senate seats off the map.

That's why I don't understand the "act like we're 20 points down!" crowd. If that's what motivates you, go to Idaho, where Joe Biden is likely down by that amount, and see how motivating that actually is. You'll discover what every sports fan knows: it's more motivating to be in the lead than losing.

And here's the thing: Biden's 9-point national lead is the reason that Texas is competitive. It's the reason Alaska is competitive. It's the reason so many traditionally red states and districts are competitive. It's the reason we might pick up state legislatures in places like (again) Texas, as well as heavy Republican gerrymanders in places like Arizona and Michigan.

The fact that Biden is running so strong nationally means that we have a wealth of newly competitive races open up down ballot. Isn't that motivating? So please don't resort to loser "20 points down" bullshit. My suspicion is that people think they need to say that to motivate other people, and it's counterproductive. Freaking Ohio and Iowa, which Trump won by around 10 points in 2016, are competitive. Winning has its advantages. And winning bigger has even more advantages—the majorities we need for critical systemic change.

Okay, let me step off my soapbox, and let's look at the state polls. As usual, we start with our baseline map.

I still think Alaska is a battleground, and if it turns Blue on November 3, you'll remember that I've harped on it all cycle. The polling aggregate says it's a 6.6-point Trump lead, so it remains firmly red on this map. But, Alaska is the toughest state to poll, so don't be surprised if it flips, that's all I'm saying.

STATEELECTORAL
VOTES

ECONOMIST
POLL AGGREGATE

WEEKLY
CHANGE

TOTAL
BASELINE--232-125
MICHIGAN16Biden +7.0-248-125
WISCONSIN10Biden +6.6-0.4258-125
NEBRASKA-011Biden +6.5-259-125
PENNSYLVANIA20Biden +5.8-0.4279-125
FLORIDA29Biden +3.4-0.2308-125
ARIZONA11Biden +3.2+0.4319-125
NORTH CAROLINA15Biden +2.4+0.4334-125
MAINE-021Biden +2.0-335-125
GEORGIA16Biden +0.0+0.2351-125
IOWA6Trump +1.8-1.0351-131
OHIO18Trump +1.6-0.8351-149
TEXAS38Trump +2-351-187

Wow, pretty much nothing changed, and that's great news for us since, you know, time is running out. Biden still has a five-point-lead-or-larger for all the states he needs to get to 270 electoral votes, and ultimate victory. He also leads in enough states that will finish their counting on election night (Florida and North Carolina), to avoid having Trump and the GOP sow chaos with an avalanche of lawsuits.

And Biden is within 2 points of blowing past 400 electoral votes, which would deliver pretty much the most humiliating defeat possible to Trump. And really, we want him humiliated.

According to conventional political wisdom, a good GOTV ground game is worth around 3 points (another reason why "fight like we're 20 down" is so stupid). So every one of those states above is gettable, especially if the Trump GOTV operation—which has put all of its marbles on Election Day turnout—fizzles. And does anyone trust the Trump Republican Party to do anything right?

Of course, no one is counting on former campaign manager Brad Parscale to have pilfered all of the money. We know he ran off with tens of millions of Trump campaign cash. Maybe some of it was spent on building a GOTV machine. Which is why we have to work as hard as we have already been working.

We truly are on the cusp of something transformative. Leave nothing on the road.

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