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.
Five weeks before the November 3 election, FiveThirtyEight’s national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 7.6% lead over Donald Trump (50.5% to 42.9%). This is a slight improvement for Biden since last week, when he led by 7.3%. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.0% in Michigan, 6.9% in Wisconsin, 5.6% in Pennsylvania, 3.7% in Arizona and 2.0% in Florida.
The best polling news for Biden was two Pennsylvania polls from FiveThirtyEight A+ rated pollsters. Both the Siena poll for The New York Times and the ABC/Washington Post poll gave Biden a nine-point lead in Pennsylvania.
If Biden wins states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the Electoral College with at least 278 Electoral Votes (270 are required). The strong polls for Biden in Pennsylvania have moved it to be 2.0% more favourable for Trump than nationally; last week it was 2.7% better for Trump.
There are several states that are not near the Electoral College “tipping-point”, but where Biden is currently narrowly ahead or behind. Since last week, Biden has taken the lead in Ohio and Iowa, and is tied in Georgia. He trails by just two points in Texas. With Biden also narrowly ahead in North Carolina, it could be a blowout victory.
Biden is doing best relative to Clinton in the Midwestern and northeastern states where there are many who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, but Trump in 2016. In 2016, both Trump and Clinton were unpopular candidates, but this year Biden is currently at a net +3 favourability, while Trump is at -13 in RealClearPolitics averages. Biden appears to have some appeal to whites without a university education, who swung to Trump in 2016.
The FiveThirtyEight forecast still gives Trump a 21% chance to win the Electoral College, down 1% since last week. Trump wins the popular vote just 11% of the time. An article by Nate Silver says that, if the election were held today, Trump would have only a 9% chance to win.
Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are 43.7% approve, 52.9% disapprove (net -9.2%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 44.2% approve, 52.7% disapprove (net -8.5%). His net approval has improved about one point since last week.
The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 68% chance to win, up 1% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 47 and 55 seats after the election.
Biden wins first presidential debate
The first presidential debate between Biden and Trump occurred Tuesday. A CBS News post-debate scientific poll gave Biden a narrow 48-41 victory, while a CNN poll gave him a far more emphatic 60-28 win. Trump needed a clear win to change the current polling. There will be two more presidential debates on October 15 and 22, and a vice presidential debate on October 7.
The major headlines from the debate were that it was a shouting match, and Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists. I have said before that the US economy’s fast recovery from the April coronavirus lows is Trump’s best asset for re-election, but he did nothing during the debate to tell a positive story about the economy.
Concerning the Supreme Court fight over the replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Morning Consult poll found that a record 62% supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while 24% were opposed. In March, this was 55-29 support. There is clear danger for Trump and Republicans in appointing a judge who will overturn Obamacare.
New Zealand poll: Labour short of majority
A new Colmar Brunton New Zealand poll has Labour on 47%, National 33%, ACT 8% and the Greens 7%. If repeated at the October 17 election, Labour would win 59 of the 120 seats, two short of a majority. You can read more at my personal website.