'It just keeps getting worse': Trump defectors and 2016 nonvoters help cement Biden's growing lead

'It just keeps getting worse': Trump defectors and 2016 nonvoters help cement Biden's growing lead
Manitowoc, Wisconsin / USA - September 21th, 2020: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris supporters rallied together outside aluminum foundry.Shutterstock/ Aaron of L.A. Photography
Trump's support is collapsing — but there are 7 reasons why Dems shouldn't get too comfortable

The major question for Democrats following 2016 was whether the party should focus on trying to win over some of the white voters who turned their backs on the party to vote for Donald Trump, or whether turning out the cycle's non-voters and and driving up numbers among the party's base was the path to taking back the White House in 2020. The Biden campaign appears to be succeeding in doing a bit of both, and to very good effect.

Ruth Mierzwa, a Pennsylvania business owner, told The Washington Post that she simply couldn't bring herself to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016, so she settled on neither and voted third-party. Not this time around.

"Trump is just so scary at this point that I don't think I can waste my vote on a third party," she said. "It just keeps getting worse. From his pick for the Supreme Court to his racist comments to his degrading anyone who doesn't agree with him to his handling of the virus. I can go on and on."

The Post released a national poll Sunday that put Biden up 12 points over Trump, and it's no outlier. National polling aggregates at the The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, and even RealClearPolitics have Biden leading by 10 points.

Another outlet that gave Biden a 10-point advantage last week was Pew Research Center, which also found that nearly half of people who voted third party in 2016 now lean or support Biden at 49% while 26% say they plan to vote for Trump. The outfit also found Biden leading solidly among voters who didn't vote in 2016, 54-38%.


As for independents, the Post poll found Biden winning those voters by 12 points. That's a 16-point turnaround from the exit polling in 2016, when Trump won the bloc by four points.

Those takeaways from the Post and Pew surveys were backed up by battleground state polling released Monday from the New York Times and Siena College that found Biden ahead in Michigan by eight points, 48-40%, and in Wisconsin by 10 points, 51-41%.

Trump, writes the Times, "faces modest but significant defections among white and independent voters, while facing a groundswell of opposition from those who voted for a minor-party candidate or didn't vote at all in 2016."

Among likely voters in Michigan, Biden is losing whites by just one point, 44-45%, whereas Trump won the demographic by 21 points in the exits. And Biden is ruining Trump among independents, 48-31%, after Trump won the group by 16 points in 2016—a net 33-point turnaround.

Among likely voters in Wisconsin, the Times shows Biden winning whites by eight points, 51-43%, after Trump won them by 11 points in 2016. Biden is also trouncing Trump among independents by 18 points, 52-34%, after Trump won the group by 10 points in 2016.

Overall, after polling 5,556 respondents in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio, the Times has found those voters backed Trump by 2.6 points in 2016—matching his actual 2.6-point margin of victory across the six states that year. But now, they support Biden across all six states, with the sample of 5,556 voters favoring Biden overall by six points. According to the Times, three demographic groups have contributed to that change in fortunes: Trump defectors (or vote switchers), third-party flips, and 2016 nonvoters. While all three groups make up a relatively modest slice of voters, they have all moved heavily in the direction of Biden in these six Northern battleground states.

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