• Alexander Heller

Biden leads Trump in Electoral Race with five months to go

| By Christopher Connors |


With Biden's lead in seven swing states now putting him in view for the White House, the question into how close the race will actually be remains to be seen.


At the onset of 2020, President Donald J. Trump was set to cruise through reelection. Despite rampant disapproval – 53% according to a Marist College poll from December 16, 2019 - a strong economy seemed to bode well for the President’s chances.


Six months later, Trump’s grapple on reelection appears to be in jeopardy. As of June 26, Trump’s national approval has taken a slight hit, dropping two points down to 41% while disapproval has risen to 57%. The backlash to the President’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and response to the protests that have cropped up following the death of George Floyd have seemingly energized support for Democratic challenger Joe Biden.


Over the last few weeks, highly reputable polls – Marist College, Monmouth University and ABC News/The Washington Post - all A+ rated by FiveThirtyEight.com, appear to show Biden surging in National head-to-head contests. The latest Marist College poll from June 24, shows Biden leading by eight points, 52-44.


The race to 270 has begun and if 2020 has taught us anything, things can, and likely will, change between now and Election Day. With this in mind, it’s worth checking in on the electoral map based on current state polling.



Biden on Course for Biggest Electoral Victory Since Obama ‘08


If the current polling holds, Biden is projected to cruise to a victory come November 3. The Democratic nominee is projected to pick up 348-350 electoral votes (depending on how Maine and Nebraska’s unique electoral districts shake out) assuming Ohio, a true toss-up, is awarded to Trump. This result would be the largest electoral college victory since Barack Obama’s 365 electoral votes in 2008.


With the recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in the Southern United States – Florida, Nevada and South Carolina all reported record-high new daily cases on Saturday. Additional states including Texas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and Nevada have announced they will scale back their reopening plans.


Over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see if these recent developments affect battleground states like North Carolina, Texas and Florida given how strongly Trump and his allies pushed to reopen these economies – moves that likely contributed to this record spread.



Nothing Set in Stone with Close Battleground Races


While the outlook might be bleak for President Trump, there are reasons for optimism. Polling in a few key battleground states is still incredibly slim. Biden currently leads polling in Florida, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia by one-to-five points. If those states flip, the incumbent President would edge out Biden 272 to 266, securing reelection in the process.


President Donald Trump at a rally in Cape May, New Jersey to show his support for Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew's switch to the Republican Party (Photo by Alexander Heller)

Although polling shows Biden leading in these key states, it’s hard to imagine him sweeping these traditionally red states. Since 1980, a Democrat has only carried Florida and Virginia three times, Georgia has only done so twice, and North Carolina and Arizona have only turned blue once. Minnesota also shows close polling with Biden leading by five points as of May 24.


With the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and the scattered protests and riots which took place in the subsequent weeks, it will be interesting to see how these events affect the Democratic challenger’s standing in the state.


On the other hand, President Trump’s lead in a handful of leaning red states isn’t particularly secure. Polling in Utah, Texas, Missouri and South Carolina are all within five points, not an insurmountable lead for a challenger. While the Biden campaign is hopeful these states could be in play, Utah is the best shot at only a three-point Trump lead.



METHODOLOGY


The electoral map above was built using Flourish.com. All polling data comes from FiveThirtyEight.com, the reliable data analysis website. Using FiveThirtyEight.com’s polling grading system, I used the highest graded polls in each state. For states without reliable polling on FiveThirtyEight.com the margins were determined based on The Economist’s 2020 electoral forecasting.


The color scale is zero-to-ten with zero-to-four representing red leaning states and six-to-ten representing blue leaning states. A five is a true toss-up, showing no clear winner in either direction. The closer to five, the lighter the shade of the state.



For more on this story, contact Christopher Connors on Twitter@Chris_Connors

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