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Where The Swing States Stand in Trump-Biden Battle

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden enters the final weekend before Election Day with polls showing him as the favorite to win the White House.

Polls were off in several key swing states in 2016, and President Trump blindsided the experts with victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

But it would take a larger polling error for history to repeat itself in 2020.

Nationally, Biden leads Trump by 8 points in the RealClearPolitics average. At this point in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump had shrunk to 1.6 points after FBI Director James Comey announced he had reopened an investigation into her use of a private server.

Trump is defending an enormous number of battlegrounds and must run the board in states that look like toss-ups, including Ohio, Iowa, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.

The FiveThirtyEight forecasting model gives Trump about a 10 percent chance of winning the White House, roughly equal to pulling an inside straight in poker. In 2016, the same model gave Trump nearly a 1 in 3 chance of winning.

Still, the race for the White House is within the margin of error in many of the battleground states that will determine the outcome. Trump has a real but small chance to win the Electoral College, if he can piece together the right combination of swing states.

A Biden landslide victory, in which he turns Texas and Georgia blue for the first time in decades, is also a possibility.

Here’s a look at where the race stands in the states that matter most, starting with those likeliest to stay in Trump’s column.

Neither Biden nor Trump will have campaigned in Texas in the closing weeks, an indicator that both campaigns believe the historical GOP stronghold in the South leans toward Republicans.

Still, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently shifted Texas into the toss-up column and Democrats working to get Biden elected insist that it’s in play. Democrats believe they’ll benefit from a high turnout election, and more people have already voted in Texas than voted in all of 2016.

The polls are very close, with the RealClearPolitics average showing Trump ahead by 2.3 points and the FiveThirtyEight average showing him with a 1.3 point advantage.

Trump’s margins will matter. If he only wins narrowly, it could be a bloodbath for Republicans running in competitive House districts.

And with some polls showing Biden in the lead in Texas — most recently a Dallas Morning News survey found him ahead by 3 points — it would not be a total surprise to see the state go blue, which would deliver a landslide victory for Biden.


In a development that would have been almost unthinkable at the beginning of the cycle, Biden has narrow leads over Trump in both the RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight averages of polls in Georgia.

The race is still very close — within 1.7 points in both averages — but it’s hard not to feel like Democrats have the momentum heading into Nov. 3. Biden has led in the FiveThirtyEight average for the entire month of October.

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Biden campaigned in Georgia this week, giving a big speech in a rural part of the state, before campaigning in Atlanta. Trump will campaign in Georgia this weekend. The state has not gone for the Democratic nominee since 1992.

A Trump loss in 2020 would also hurt the GOP’s hopes of holding the Senate, as there are two competitive races there this cycle. A candidate must win 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election.


The longtime presidential bellwether broke for Trump by 8 points in 2016, leading many Democrats to write it off for 2020.

But Biden’s polling strength across the Rust Belt and Midwest has put the state won by the Obama-Biden ticket in 2008 and 2012 back in play.

The polls show Ohio is a pure toss-up, with RealClearPolitics showing the race is tied and FiveThirtyEight giving Trump a 1-point advantage.

The only major poll of the state out this week is from Quinnipiac University, which found Biden ahead by 5 points. Quinnipiac has had a steady lean in Biden’s favor throughout the cycle.

We should know the results from Ohio relatively early on election night. If Biden wins, it’s all but over for Trump.


Iowa is in the same category as Ohio. Trump won it by 9 points in 2016, but it’s unexpectedly competitive in 2020. Obama won it in 2008 and 2012.

Once again, the polling averages reflect a tossup, with Biden ahead by 1.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average and 0.3 points in the FiveThirtyEight average. Biden campaigned in Des Moines on Friday. Trump is headed to Iowa this weekend.

A Quinnipiac poll out this week found Trump ahead by 1 point.

Keep your eyes peeled for a potential Des Moines Register poll this weekend. That survey is known as the gold standard for Iowa. The poll nailed the 2016 race, which should have been a warning sign for Democrats about their weakness in the Midwest. The last Des Moines Register poll was from September and showed the candidates tied.


The polls show the candidates are separated by only a razor-thin margin in the Tar Heel State, with Biden ahead by 1.9 points in the FiveThirtyEight average and by less than 1 point in the RealClearPolitics average.

The Hill’s poll finds Biden with a 1-point lead, while The New York Times-Siena College put his lead at 3 points. A new NBC News-Marist poll put Biden’s advantage at 6 points — the largest lead he’s had in any poll of the state dating back to June.

North Carolina is another must-win for Trump and it could go either way.

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Do the polls matter in Florida? The last two elections have been decided by 1 point or less and it seems likely that the Sunshine State is headed for another photo finish in 2020.

Biden leads by 2 points in the FiveThirtyEight average and by 1.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average.

Of the polls making up the RealClearPolitics average, Biden has led by 2 points or more in eight of the 11 polls released in the past two weeks.

Trump leads 3 points or more in the remaining three polls, which were conducted by Trafalgar Group, Susquehanna College and the conservative outlet Rasmussen. Those pollsters have been more favorable for Trump this cycle, reflecting a controversial narrative that so-called “shy” Trump voters are too embarrassed to tell pollsters they support the president.

The race here could turn on Biden’s support among Latinos. Some polls have found him running behind Clinton’s level of support in the state.


There is a disparity in the polling averages in Arizona, with RealClearPolitics showing the race is a tie and FiveThirtyEight showing Biden with a 3-point advantage.

Polling has been sparse, and the RealClearPolitics average is tilted in Trump’s favor by two recent polls from Rasmussen and Susquehanna showing Trump in the lead.

Going back for the last month, Biden has led in 13 of the 16 major polls conducted, with only Rasmussen, Susquehanna and Trafalgar showing Trump in the lead.

Still, Biden’s lead is small. While it appeared for a while that Biden might be pulling away — he led by more than 5 points in the FiveThirtyEight average in mid-September — most recent polls show him with only a narrow advantage, giving hope to Trump.

The Phoenix-based pollsters OH Predictive Insights, who have been polling the state throughout the cycle, put Biden ahead by 3 points in their final survey. That’s within the poll’s 3.7 percentage point margin of error.


Now we move out of the toss-ups into states where Biden has a clear — but not insurmountable — advantage.

Biden leads by 3.6 points in the RealClearPolitics average and by 5 points in the FiveThirtyEight model.

The Hill’s final poll of the state found Biden ahead by 5 points. Dating back to September, Biden has led in every major nonpartisan poll of the state except one released this week by Trafalgar, which found Trump ahead by 2 points.

Pennsylvania is widely viewed as the tipping point state for both campaigns in the race for 270 electoral votes. Biden will spend Monday blanketing the state and Trump will hold three rallies there on Saturday.

Trump won the state by fewer than 50,000 votes in 2016 and it appears to be the best shot he has at repeating a victory in one of the three former “blue wall” states.

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While the president will be the underdog here on Election Day, it would not take a very big polling miss for him to pull it out once again.


Due to its large population of white working class voters, Democrats were pessimistic about their chances of winning Wisconsin back to start the cycle. Now, it appears to be moving back into their column.

Biden leads by 6.4 points in the RealClearPolitics average and by 8.6 points in the FiveThirtyEight average, his largest advantage of the cycle.

An ABC News-Washington Post released a poll this week showing Biden ahead by 17 points, although Democrats dismissed that survey as an outlier.

In-state pollsters at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin have put the race in the 5- to 9-point range for Biden. Still, the Marquette poll that put Biden ahead by 5 points has a 4.4 percentage point margin of error. Democrats won’t rest easy until all the votes are counted.


Biden and former President Obama will campaign in Michigan this weekend, underscoring the importance of a state that Trump carried by about 11,000 votes in 2016.

The polls show Biden leading comfortably. He’s up by 6.5 points in the RealClearPolitics average and by 8.7 points in the FiveThirtyEight average.

Every recent poll going back to mid-October has found Biden leading by between 7 points and 11 points with the exception of Trafalgar, whose new poll found Trump ahead by 2 points.


There has not been much polling in Minnesota.

Biden leads by 4.7 points in the RealClearPolitics average and by 8.2 points in the FiveThirtyEight average.

The Biden campaign feels the race is close enough that it is sending him to campaign in the state in the final days before the election.

Trump came within 2 points of Clinton in 2016 despite not campaigning or spending in the state. He’s doing both this time around and there is clear energy for him in the rural parts of the state. The question is whether that will be enough to overcome Biden’s huge margins in the Twin Cities region.


Nevada is another state that Clinton won in 2016 where there is very little polling this time around.

FiveThirtyEight puts Biden’s advantage at 6 points and RealClearPolitics puts it at 4 points.

The latest New York Times-Siena College poll put Biden’s lead at 6 points, while the Las Vegas Review-Journal put him ahead by 2 points, well within the margin of error.


Clinton won New Hampshire by fewer than 4,000 votes in 2016 but the state appears out of reach for Trump in 2020.

Biden leads by 11.4 points in the FiveThirtyEight average. He’s led by 8 points or more in every poll of the state this month.

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