Biden maintains clear lead over Trump

Three and a half months from the election, Biden maintains a high single-digit national lead over Trump as US coronavirus deaths start rising. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings with all polls are 40.3% approve, 55.6% disapprove (net -15.3%). With polls of registered or likely voters, Trump’s ratings are 40.9% approve, 55.1% disapprove (net -14.2%). Since my article three weeks ago, Trump has lost about one points on net approval. While Trump’s approval has continued to drop, his disapproval has fallen a point from a peak last week.

The latest FiveThirtyEight national poll aggregate gives Joe Biden a 50.3% to 41.2% lead over Trump. Most polls at this stage give voting intentions based on registered voters, but Republican-supporting demographics have historically been more likely to vote, hence FiveThirtyEight adjusts registered voter polls a little in Trump’s favour. Three weeks ago, Biden’s lead was 9.6%.

Where there have been few recent polls of a state, FiveThirtyEight adjusts that state’s polls for the national trend. In the key states that are likely to decide the Electoral College, Biden remains well ahead. He leads by 9.1% in Michigan, 7.7% in Pennsylvania, 7.6% in Wisconsin and 6.8% in Florida.

If Biden wins all the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 (232 Electoral Votes), he needs another 38 EVs to reach the 270 needed to win. If Biden wins Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (46 total EVs), he wins the election with at least 278 EVs.

The issue for Biden is that the tipping-point state in the Electoral College is still about 1.5% better for Trump than the national polls. In 2016, the tipping-point state was 3% better for Trump than the national popular vote. If Trump were able to hold Biden’s national vote margin to under five points, and make bigger gains in the Midwestern swing states, he could still win the Electoral College.

Trump’s general behaviour offends well-educated voters, and they were always likely to vote for an alternative. To compensate, Trump needed the support of voters without high educational attainment. Had the coronavirus faded well before the November 3 election, and an economic rebound was on track, such an outcome would have been plausible.

However, the last few weeks have seen record numbers of daily cases set, then exceeded a short time later. On both July 10 and July 15, over 70,000 new US coronavirus cases were recorded.

Despite the surge in cases, daily coronavirus deaths had generally been decreasing until about ten days ago. But it takes time for patients to go from showing symptoms to death, and it also takes time for states to process the paperwork. US daily coronavirus deaths are rising again, with almost 1,000 recorded on Wednesday. It is likely they will increase further.

With coronavirus such a huge crisis, the candidate seen as best able to handle it is likely to win, and at the moment that’s Biden. In a terrible Quinnipiac poll for Trump, in which he trailed Biden by 15 and had a -24 net approval, Biden led on the coronavirus by 59-35, and Trump’s net approval of handling of coronavirus was -27. By 67-30, voters said they did not trust information about the coronavirus provided by Trump, while by 65-26 they trusted information provided by Dr Anthony Fauci. Picking a fight with Fauci appears to be dumb.

As I wrote in a recent Conversation article, the June US jobs report was good, but there’s still a long way to go to reach employment levels that would normally be considered poor. The coronavirus surge is likely to derail any economic recovery.

In the battle for the Senate, the RealClearPolitics Senate map currently shows 47 seats where Republicans are ahead, 46 with Democrats leading and 7 toss-ups.

Polish and Croatian elections

Owing to lack of elections, Wednesday’s article about the recent Polish and Croatian elections is the first I’ve published on my personal website since February. In the Polish presidential election, the candidate aligned with the economically left but socially conservative Law and Justice party won narrowly. In Croatia, the conservatives won easily in a disappointing result for the left.

23 comments on “Biden maintains clear lead over Trump”

  1. If Trump were able to hold Biden’s national vote margin to under five points, and make bigger gains in the Midwestern swing states, he could still win the Electoral College.

    It seems in some way irresponsible to note this possibility without pointing out how undemocratic of an outcome it would actually be.

    Certainly Trump would not be one to shy away from such a strategy, but winning an election by getting something like 6.5 million fewer votes than your opponent can’t possibly be a good look. Especially if you do it intentionally.

    If the tables were turned and the Democrats deliberately pursued and won with that tactic, Republicans would scream bloody murder. At the least.

  2. ar
    What I find extremely difficult to comprehend is how Trump is still even vaguely in the race.
    I mentioned in another thread that I thought that the gradual displacement of english by spanish could be one of the sorts of triggers that causes the disintegration of the US.
    Then Invanka and Trump both promote Goya black beans and the boss of Goya extols the virtues of POTUS Trump.
    This is followed by a stoush between those who say that the Goya Boss is letting down those hispanics whom Trump has insulted, and those who say that Goya beans are great and hispanics are right to enjoy them.
    I’m thinking Florida and Texas.

  3. boerwar @ #2 Thursday, July 16th, 2020 – 6:09 pm

    This is followed by a stoush between those who say that the Goya Boss is letting down those hispanics whom Trump has insulted, and those who say that Goya beans are great and hispanics are right to enjoy them.

    One thing I learned recently is that Goya is headquartered in the great Hispanic nation of New Jersey. I find that somewhat incongruous with both sides of that debate. 🙂

  4. NBC-WSJ poll: Joe Biden 51% Donald Trump 40%

    In the combined 11 battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Biden leads Trump 52% to 40%.

  5. If you think Trump’s had a bad week spare a thought for the New Zealand National’s. A new leader and two high profile shadow ministers gone!

  6. The general consensus on is that Biden will win the electoral college quite comfortably as well as the national vote and that the Democrats could pick up to 40 additional seats in the House and possibly 4 Senate seats. With the two independent Senators caucusing with the Democrats in the Senate, the dems should hold 51 seats to the republicans 49. If this scenario plays out it will be interesting to see what happens in the US over the next 2 years.

  7. “ In the battle for the Senate, the RealClearPolitics Senate map currently shows 47 seats where Republicans are ahead, 46 with Democrats leading and 7 toss-ups.”

    Of course, only 33 or 34 Senate seats are up for election each two years. Of the 7 toss ups, only 1 is currently held by a democrat. So if Biden wins big, that likely to carry over into the toss up senate races. If Biden wins then it seems good odds that the democrats pick up at least 4 out of 7 toss up races. With the VP’s tie breaker vote that would give control of congress to the Dems for at least two years.

    It’s also assumed that Alabama – won in the special election by democrat jones, will revert to republican hands. Given the power of encumbency, if trump loses badly then it is possible that jones retains that deepest of deep red states for team D.

  8. The Democrats probably need 51 Senators, excluding the Vice-President, to scrap the Filibuster because if they only get 50, The Republicans would be able to adopt the existing Senate rules for the new Senate with Mike Pence`s casting vote (in his last 17 days as Vice-President).

  9. Americans’ views of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic have deteriorated significantly as cases rise across the country and personal fears of becoming infected persist, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

    The Post-ABC poll shows 38 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the outbreak, down from 46 percent in May and 51 percent in March. Sixty percent disapprove, up from 53 percent in May and 45 percent in March.

    More than half of the public — 52 percent — now disapproves “strongly” of Trump’s handling of the outbreak, roughly double the percentage who say they strongly approve of his efforts and an increase from 36 percent in strong disapproval since March.

  10. Tom – senate rules can be made and unmade. Democrats have no hope of achieving anything if they play by rules set by republicans. Surely they know that?

    What is the constitutional impediment to 50 democrat aligned senators plus the VP scrapping the rules set by a lame duck republican aligned senate?

  11. The Senate filibuster, where you need at least 3/5 of the Senate (60 senators) to pass most legislation, is like a gentleman’s agreement. It is not part of the constitution, and a Dem majority could change it at any time if they wanted to.

    But Dems need more than just a bare majority to change it, as there are some conservative Dem senators, such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who would vote against changing the filibuster rules.


    The impediment is that the Senators` changeover is on the 3rd of January but the Vice-Presidential changeover (which is exactly the same as the Presidential changeover) is on the 20th of January and so 50 Republican Senators and lame duck Vice-President Mike Pence can adopt the existing rules (or any other rules they want, for example: bringing back the filibuster for appointments) in the 17 days (technically 16 and two halves as the changeovers are at noon) before the new Democratic Vice-President (should there be one of those) gives the Democrats a majority.

    I did not include the pro-filibuster Democrats in my argument. They, if they keep their promise, make the hurdle for the removal of the filibuster higher. The question is whether or not they would all vote with the Republicans, while Mike Pence still have the deciding vote, if there was not enough of them to save the filibuster once there was a Democratic VP?

  13. After the Merrick Garland fiasco I would say the Republicans have poisoned the well as far as appointments and the filibuster go.

  14. The filibuster isn’t a rule, it’s a tactic based on the fact that 3/5 vote is required to close debate on legislation and go to a vote in the US Senate (a cloture motion is a standard motion in most decision making forums, such as legislatures, committees, boards etc. but they usually just require a simple majority to succeed.) To end the filibuster, you’re not removing it or constitutionally banning it, you would just change the vote required for cloture to be the same as that required for legislation to pass (i.e. a simple majority or tie broken in favour by the VP.)

    Conservative Democrats and Liberal Republicans (as dwindling as those categories are becoming) want to keep the filibuster because it strengthens their position as cross-benchers. In which case they can:

    1. Hold out for pork and concessions in return for support for the legislation (or at least, cloture.)
    2. Ensure that their ideological peculiarities are met.
    3. Ensure the legislation isn’t just something divisive that is rammed through by the simplest of majorities (driving opponents to be motivated to repeal it as soon as possible)
    4. Self-preservation. When they campaign for re-election in their electorates that are nominally hostile to their party, no matter what their voting record is, they still have the label of Senate Democrat/Republican around their neck and if said party is perceived as too ideologically driven, they can be tainted.

    FWIW, the above kind of thinking is becoming less logical as the number of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans in the Senate is decreasing, and the fact that the good faith “gentleman’s” environment in the chamber is disappearing in favour of hyperpartisanship (as seen by examples like McConnell’s manoeuvres and the filibuster being chipped away by things like the nuclear option (appealing to the chair on the question of specific types of votes – such as judicial nomination – not requiring 3/5 for cloture and then overruling the chair with a simple majority, basically making that type of vote no longer filibusterable) I think the filibuster only survives because the side who benefits from it in the moment refuses to be the first to blink on the issue. I do however think it’s on its last legs and probably the next thing you might see is cloture being dropped to 55 or something like that. Also, I think it’ll be chipped away by more “nuclear” manoeuvres in future. Whether they fully pull the plug on it by reducing cloture to a simple majority any time soon is something we will have to wait and see (but I am doubtful.)

  15. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 38% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, down from 46% in May and 51% in March. Disapproval has simultaneously climbed to 60%, up from 53% in May and 45% in March.

  16. The Shovel makes an interesting point about the actions of the NRA:

    “An embarrassed National Rifle Association says it totally forgot to do the one thing it has been saying for years it is solely there to do.

    “Our whole reason for lobbying for looser gun laws and amassing huge personal arsenals of weapons these past years was so that we could ensure the security of a free state and protect the people from an oppressive government. And then it actually happened, and the whole rising up against a tyrannical government thing just totally slipped our minds, which is a little embarrassing,” a sheepish NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said.”

  17. Friday, July 24
    Race/Topic (Click to Sort) Poll Results Spread
    Pennsylvania: Trump vs. Biden FOX News Biden 50, Trump 39 Biden +11
    Minnesota: Trump vs. Biden FOX News Biden 51, Trump 38 Biden +13
    Michigan: Trump vs. Biden FOX News Biden 49, Trump 40 Biden +9

    Florida: Trump vs. Biden

    RCP Average 6/29 – 7/20 — — 49.7 42.7 Biden +7.0
    Quinnipiac 7/16 – 7/20 924 RV 3.2 51 38 Biden +13
    St. Pete Polls* 7/13 – 7/14 3018 LV 1.8 50 44 Biden +6
    Gravis 7/13 – 7/13 529 RV 4.3 53 43 Biden +10
    CNBC/Change Research (D) 7/10 – 7/12 1128 LV — 50 43 Biden +7
    CBS News/YouGov 7/7 – 7/10 1299 RV 3.5 48 42 Biden +6

  18. “This is health care moonshot time,” said Irwin Redlener, the founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University who served on the Biden campaign’s public health task force earlier this year. “My sense is that we’re not going to see a moderate, watered down, gradual series of changes. I expect a huge plan that would forever change how Americans get health care.

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