2020 poll watch
7:50 a.m.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll of Wisconsin and Michigan released Wednesday morning had good news for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In Michigan, the poll found him beating President Trump by a modest 7 percentage points among likely voters, 51 percent to 44 percent, within the margin of error. But Biden's lead in Wisconsin was 17 points among both likely and registered voters, a lead so large The Washington Post suggested it might be "significantly more bullish for Biden than some other public polls" because of "variation in random sample surveys."

Biden's Wisconsin lead in the RealClearPolitics average is 5.5 points (49.8 percent to 44.3 percent), and FiveThirtyEight puts Biden ahead by 7.1 points, 51.4 percent to 44.3 percent. RealClearPolitics also gives Biden a 9-point lead in Michigan (50.5 percent to 41.5 percent), while FiveThirtyEight pegs it at 8.3 points, 50.9 percent to 42.6 percent. Biden has led in both states for months now; Trump won both by narrow margins in 2016 — 10,704 votes out of 4.8 million cast in Michigan and 22,748 out of 3 million votes in Wisconsin.

Trump's approval rating and poll numbers are down in both states compared with the last Washington Post/ABC News poll, and the pollsters attribute his especially precipitous fall in Wisconsin — Biden led by just 6 points in mid-September — to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin is "now reported to be third in the nation in per capita COVID-19 cases, with a 53 percent increase in average daily cases in the past two weeks, a record number of hospitalizations, and a 112 percent jump in deaths," ABC News reports. And the polls bear that out: Biden now leads Trump by 20 points on who Wisconsin voters trust to handle the outbreak, from 7 points in September.

Biden's lead is also fueled in both states by double-digit leads among women and majorities of older voters.

The polls were conducted via phone, mostly cellphones, Oct. 20-25 among 789 likely voters in Michigan and 809 likely Wisconsin voters. The margin of sampling error in both states is ± 4 percentage points. Peter Weber

October 26, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden may be making inroads with America's youth.

A new poll released Monday by the Harvard Kennedy School revealed that the Democratic presidential nominee's favorability rating shot up from 42 percent in April to 56 percent currently among likely voters between the ages of 18 and 29, although the amount of respondents who view him negatively remains unchanged.

Biden already enjoyed a stark advantage over President Trump in the younger demographic, even when his popularity was lower, but the new numbers do seem to back up the idea that younger voters are enthusiastic about voting in this election. Indeed, 63 percent of those surveyed said they "will definitely" head to the polls or send in a ballot, compared to just 47 percent who said the same in 2016.

The Harvard poll was conducted between Sept. 23 and Oct. 11 among 2,026 voters between 18-29 years-old. The margin of error was 2.99 percent. Read the full results here. Tim O'Donnell

October 26, 2020

A poll Sunday from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden beating President Trump by 3 percentage points among likely Texas voters, 48 percent to 45 percent. "That's within the margin of error, but it's also a 5-point reversal from the last such poll in early September," the Morning News reports.

This poll may very well be an outlier, but not by much. Trump and Biden are tied in FiveThirtyEight's Texas polling average.

"I suppose I'd note here that our forecast still has Trump favored in Texas, in part because it has strict voting laws (one of the few states without no-excuse absentee voting)," FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver adds, "but Biden's chances there (38 percent) are the highest they've been all cycle." Turnout is high, so far. As of Saturday, 7.2 million Texans had voted, 42.4 percent of the state's registered voters, The Texas Tribune reports. That matches the 2016 early vote count, and Texans have five days left to cast their ballots before Election Day.

If Biden pulled off a win in Texas, Trump would have essentially no path to victory. Still, Trump isn't going to visit the Lone Star State before the election because "he's going to be in battleground states," former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Trump first energy secretary, told the Morning News. "Texas is not a battleground state, it's that simple," and a Biden victory is a Democratic "pipe dream." It's not clear how seriously the Biden campaign is taking Texas — not seriously enough, according to Texas Democrats — but vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is paying a visit Friday.

The Dallas Morning News/UT Tyler poll was conducted Oct. 13-20 among 1,012 registered Texas voters, including 924 "extremely likely" voters. The poll's margin of error for the likely voters is ± 3.22 percentage points. Peter Weber

October 25, 2020

President Trump has stirred up controversy by giving some evasive answers on what he'll do if he fails to win re-election on Nov. 3 (or whenever the presidential race is called). The president has said he will accept a peaceful transition of power, but he continues to suggest the election may not be "honest" or "clean," with a particular focus on the mail-in voting process, which he believes is vulnerable to fraud.

Regardless, the majority of his supporters are prepared to accept the election results no matter who wins, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed Sunday. In the survey, 59 percent of those who are backing Trump said they'll accept a win from his Democratic competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden, and the data is pretty much the same on the other side of things, where 57 percent of Biden supporters said they'd accept a Trump victory.

That does theoretically leave a significant amount of people who would refuse to accept the results, but not all of those folks would take action to challenge the outcome. Among Trump backers, 16 percent said they would try to do something about a Biden victory, while 22 percent of Biden voters said they'd make an effort to dispute a Trump win.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online between Oct. 13-20. It gathered responses from 2,649 American adults. The margin of error was 4 percentage points. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

October 21, 2020

President Trump won 52 percent of Catholic voters in 2016, versus 44 percent for Hillary Clinton, Pew Research estimates. Now, Trump is losing the Catholic vote to Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 12 percentage points, 52 percent to 40 percent, according to a poll released Tuesday by right-leaning EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research.

Biden would be the second Catholic president, after fellow Democrat John F. Kennedy, but American Catholics are evenly divided between the Republican and Democratic parties. Democrat John Kerry, the last Catholic nominee, narrowly lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush in 2004, exit polls found.

"Catholic voters have emerged as perhaps the key demographic cohort in the 2020 campaign," says RealClearPolitics' Carl Cannon. This year they are "increasingly non-white, trending more liberal in their younger ranks, and intensely concerned about jobs, the coronavirus, and health care." They also prefer Biden's policies over Trump's, 53 percent to 41 percent, and favor Biden's temperament, 59 percent to 33 percent, the poll found.

"Similar to national tracking polls, Biden's standing — in many cases, a 20-plus-point advantage — among Catholic women, Hispanics, independents, and voters under 55 (especially millennials and Gen Z) make it very challenging for Trump to narrow the gap in the final days," said John Della Volpe, who directed the poll. EWTN News notes that Biden's lead "narrows significantly in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin."

The poll also found that a 46 percent plurality of likely Catholic voters support the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Catholic, while the rest are either opposed (28 percent) or don't have enough information to make a judgment (27 percent). Also, 45 percent of Catholic voters favor upholding Roe v. Wade, while 25 percent want all abortion outlawed and 18 percent want it left to the states. "There is no gender gap on this issue and it's worth emphasizing that support for keeping Roe is high even among Catholics who attend Mass daily," Cannon notes. "Simply put, this election isn't about abortion. It's about the economy and the coronavirus. It's a referendum."

The ETWN News-RealClear Opinion poll was conducted Oct. 4-11 among 1,490 likely Catholic voters contacted online in English and Spanish. It has a confidence interval of 2.79 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Peter Weber

October 15, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump by 11 percentage points, 53 percent to 42 percent, in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News national poll of registered voters released late Wednesday. That's an improvement for Trump from the last WSJ/NBC poll earlier this month, which found him behind by 14 points, but it's larger than the 8-point lead Biden had in September.

Biden's 11-point lead is a little higher than his polling average — 10.2 points at FiveThirtyEight and 9.2 points at RealClearPolitics — but it points to a steep climb for Trump three weeks before Election Day. "The president may have recovered from COVID-19, but there is no experimental cocktail that can cure his standing with voters," said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, who conducted the survey with GOP pollster Bill McInturff. Still, he said, "there are signs that the race could still tighten."

For instance, Trump's job approval rating, 44 percent, is higher than his vote share of 42 percent. And voters give Republicans a 13-point lead on handling the economy, the top issue in the race. But Democrats are up 17 points on handling the coronavirus and 18 points on health care, and voters said they planned to vote for congressional Democrats over Republicans by 8 points. An impressive 50 percent of voters say their families are better off than they were four years ago, but 58 percent said the U.S. is worse off and 60 percent said the country is headed in the right direction.

NBC News reminds readers that Trump was down 11 points to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the WSJ/NBC News poll in October 2016, "but what's different from four years ago is just how stable Biden's national lead has been over the past year, including among key voting subgroups like women, voters of color, seniors and independents."

The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) Oct. 9-12 among 1,000 registered voters contacted by landline and cellphone. Its margin or error is ± 3.1 percentage points. Peter Weber

October 12, 2020

North Carolina's Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham became mired in a scandal earlier this month when he admitted to exchanging romantic text messages with a woman who is not his wife. Yet a new poll conducted by SurveyUSA showed that Cunningham actually increased his lead over the incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) after the news broke.

In the previous poll, Cunningham was up seven, but that jumped to a 10-point advantage in the iteration released Monday. The growing margin is largely thanks to men and younger voters, who have enhanced their support for the challenger. For example, Cunningham went from trailing Tillis by 11 among all men in September, to up two in October. Meanwhile, women and senior voters did shift more to Tillis in the wake of the scandal. But, overall, it does not appear to have drastically altered the state of the race.

SurveyUSA interviewed 900 adults across North Carolina, 746 of whom are registered to vote in the state, between Oct. 8-11. A margin of error was not reported. Read the full results here. Tim O'Donnell

October 12, 2020

"President Donald Trump is running out of time to recover from a series of self-inflicted setbacks that have rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House is on the verge of being lost to Democrat Joe Biden," The Associated Press reports. "The one-two punch of Trump's coronavirus diagnosis and his widely panned debate performance also has Republicans worried they could lose control of the Senate."

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday showed Biden winning by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 54 percent to 42 percent, outside the ± 4-point margin of error. RealClearPolitics' national polling average has Biden up 9.8 points (51.9 to 42.1 percent) and the FiveThirtyEight average recorded Biden leading by 10.4 points (52.2 to 41.9 percent). Some key swing states are a little bit tighter, but FiveThirtyEight also has Biden at 86 in 100 odds to win the Electoral College.

Optimists in Trump's inner circle note Trump's unique ability to command attention, argue that the polls are undercounting Trump voters, and point to Trump's come-from-behind victory in 2016. "If we believe public media polls, then we would be talking about Hillary Clinton's re-election right now," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told AP.

"This year's campaign, other Republicans worry, may instead resemble 1980 or 2008: a close race until, at the end, it decidedly wasn't," AP reports. "Some Trump allies say their best bet is to hope that the results look close election night, before some of the mail-in ballots are counted, allowing Trump to declare victory and have the results thrown to the courts."

"He's in trouble, there's no question," former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer told AP. "By every traditional measuring stick, this looks like a Biden landslide." On Monday, Biden is campaigning in Ohio, a state Trump won easily in 2016. But, of course, nothing has been very conventional this year — or for the previous four years. And Democrats, habitually nervous, are not taking this for granted. "While the state of the race looks promising," AP reports, "Democrats know that three weeks add up to an eternity in the age of Trump." Peter Weber

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