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.
With three weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 10.2% lead over Donald Trump (52.3% to 42.1%). Biden’s lead has increased by 0.6% since last week. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.8% in Wisconsin and Michigan, 7.1% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.
Pennsylvania is back to being the “tipping-point” state in the Electoral College, after being tied with Wisconsin last week. The good news for Trump is that Pennsylvania is currently 3.1% more favourable for him than nationally. The bad news is that, with Biden up ten nationally, that isn’t going to matter.
For Trump to win, he needs to either reduce Biden’s national lead to under five points, so that the key states become highly competitive, or hope for a polling error much worse than in 2016. In the last two weeks, Biden’s national lead has increased from seven to ten points, and Trump is rapidly running out of time. A Trump recovery would probably involve him focusing on the economy for the last three weeks, and not holding rallies that can be seen as reckless given coronavirus.
Biden also leads by 3.2% in North Carolina, 1.2% in Georgia, 0.6% in Iowa and 0.3% in Ohio. He trails by 1.4% in Texas. As I have said previously, if Biden wins all these states, he wins over 400 of the 538 Electoral Votes.
The FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 13% chance to win the Electoral College, down from 16% last week. He only has a 5% chance to win the popular vote.
Despite the bad voting intention polls, Trump’s job approval ratings have been relatively stable. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -10.4%, and -10.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. His ratings are down slightly since last week, but there has not been a fall like in July.
Favourable ratings are likely a better explanation for Trump’s decline. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, the highest it’s been, while Trump’s is -12. In 2016, both Trump and Hillary Clinton were very unpopular. This year, Biden’s big lead is partly explained by his own popularity.
In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 76% chance to win control, up 4% since last week. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority, a one-seat gain for Democrats. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats; it was 48 to 55 last week.
Some states have voter registration by party, though this does not mean that every registered Democrat votes for Biden, or every Republican for Trump. According to Michael McDonald’s Elections Project site, in North Carolina 51% of returned mail ballots have been from Democrats and just 18% Republicans. In Florida, it’s 50% Democrats and 29% Republicans.
These figures appear strong for Biden. However, it’s to be expected according to polls. A Pew Research poll was conducted after the first presidential debate from a sample of over 10,000. It gave Biden an overall 52-42 lead. Among those voting by mail, Biden’s lead was 69-27, and he also led by 55-40 among those voting in-person before election day. However, Trump led by 63-31 among those voting in-person on election day.
There could be big swings on election night depending on the order in which states count early and election day votes. In Florida, for example, the early vote is counted first, and much of it will be reported soon after polls close. Biden would expect to take a big lead on these early returns, but Trump would likely gain on the election day vote.
Colmar Brunton: NZ Labour leads National by 46-31
Two days before Saturday’s New Zealand election, the final Colmar Brunton poll, conducted October 10-14 from a sample of 1,005, gave Labour 46% (down one since last week), National 31% (down one), the Greens 8% (up two), the right-wing ACT 8% (steady) and NZ First 3% (up one). Jacinda Ardern led Judith Collins as better PM by 55-20 (50-23 last week).
If this poll was the election result, Labour would win 59 of the 120 parliamentary seats, two short of a majority. National would win 40, the Greens 11 and ACT 10. The Greens will be happy that their vote has increased to 8%, three points above the 5% threshold for party representation without winning a single-member seat. A Labour/Greens government is the most likely election outcome.
A Morgan NZ poll, conducted in September, gave Labour 47.5%, National 28.5%, the Greens 9.5% and ACT 7%.