â Poll error in 2016 is calculated using averages of state polls conducted within three weeks of Election Day. Estimates as of Sept. 29, 2020.
For the first time since we started our poll tracker several weeks ago, Joe Biden leads by enough to withstand a repeat of the polling error in 2016.
If the polls were exactly as wrong as they were four years ago, Mr. Biden would hold the Clinton states and flip Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nebraskaâs Second District, giving him more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
The big shift: Pennsylvania. An ABC/Post poll overnight and a Times/Siena poll Monday showed Mr. Biden up by nine points in the state, giving him a far more comfortable lead there than Hillary Clinton held over the final stretch four years ago. Itâs worth waiting on a few more high-quality polls to confirm that Mr. Biden has a big edge here (itâs hard to overstate the electoral consequences if he does).
Of course, the polls wonât be exactly as wrong as they were in 2016. They could understate support for Donald Trump by an even greater degree. But there are good reasons to believe that many causes of 2016âs poll misfire are less likely this time around:
More pollsters now weight by education, which ensures that voters without a college degree make up an appropriate share of the sample. Many state polls had far too many college graduates four years ago, leading them to underestimate Mr. Trump.
There are far fewer undecided voters, who ultimately broke toward Mr. Trump across the Upper Midwest. A similar late break among undecided voters this time would be less consequential.
A more stable race. Our estimate of the polling error in 2016 is a little unfair to pollsters: Weâre looking at the average error over the final three weeks of the race. That includes polls taken after the âAccess Hollywoodâ tape and before the Comey letter. Those polls showed Mrs. Clinton with a commanding lead. The final polls were more accurate, if still biased toward Mrs. Clinton.
This time itâs probably less likely that the polls will swing greatly over the last few weeks of the race. After all, theyâve been far more stable over the last few months than they were at any point in 2016.
That doesnât mean that weâre immune to another misfire. Indeed, most polling misses happen precisely because the causes canât be anticipated. Thatâs why our tables on this page also include the polling miss from 2012, when surveys underestimated President Obama. But it also means thereâs no reason the polls couldnât be off by even more than they were four years ago.
The first presidential debate is Tuesday, marking the beginning of the final stretch of the 2020 campaign. Itâs a fine time to take a step back and look at the big picture.
The average of polls shows Joe Biden with a seven-point lead nationwide, giving him the largest lead of any candidate at this stage since Bill Clinton in 1996. He also has a consistent, if usually more modest, advantage across the battleground states.
If polling averages today translated perfectly to election results on Nov. 3 â and they wonât, itâs worth repeating â Mr. Biden would win nearly 360 electoral votes. If he outperforms the polls, he could win more than 400 electoral votes in the largest electoral landslide since 1988. Thatâs a real possibility.
But so many battleground states are close enough that the presidentâs re-election hopes are still alive. If he outperforms the polls as he did four years ago, he could certainly win.
It might seem odd for a landslide and a competitive race to seem so realistic. But consider this: Mr. Biden is closer in our poll average to winning Texas, which would get him over 400 electoral votes, than President Trump is to winning in traditional battleground states like Pennsylvania and Nevada.
Mondayâs polls didnât change the fundamental state of the race. The teetering between a possible landslide and a competitive race continues.
The biggest news came from Pennsylvania. This is arguably the single most important state keeping the president highly competitive, and a Times/Siena College poll on Monday showed Mr. Biden up nine points among likely voters. This was a result in the landslide category.
Now, itâs just one poll. Itâs a good poll, if we may say so ourselves, but itâs still one poll. Indeed, there was an online poll today that showed Mr. Biden up five points there. So itâs not as if we can say that he has now taken a commanding lead in the state.
But itâs hard to overstate the electoral consequences if the Times/Siena poll is even in the ballpark. With Michigan and perhaps even Wisconsin slipping toward Mr. Biden, the president simply canât afford for Pennsylvania to drift into a deficit in the upper-single digits as well.
Time will tell whether Mr. Biden has really taken a significant lead. Fortunately, we wonât have to wait long. ABC News/Washington Post will have a poll late Monday night, and Monmouth will poll Pennsylvania after the debate. There will be a Times/Siena poll after the debate as well.
If the balance of new high-quality polls confirms such a wide lead in the state, it will be devastating to the presidentâs re-election chances.
Biden has a backup plan. If Mr. Biden canât pull off Pennsylvania, he has a backup plan: flip Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona; and win Nebraskaâs Second Congressional District. It adds up to exactly 270 electoral votes, and a Times/Siena poll in Nebraskaâs Second showed that Mr. Biden also had a comfortable lead there (seven points).
More tantalizing clues in Alaska. Alaska is a severely underpolled state, but a lot of people think the race there is close. Today, we got another clue of a competitive race: A Democratic firm, Harstad Strategic Research, found Mr. Trump leading by just one point. This is also in the landslide category. But itâs what we expect from polls by Democratic firms, which tend to release relatively favorable results for their preferred candidate, so donât take this too far. Weâre mainly flagging it as an opportunity to explore a state that we havenât gotten to talk about.
Alaska hasnât voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, but there are reasons to think it could be competitive. Mr. Trump won only 51 percent of the vote there in 2016, putting it right next to some highly competitive states, like Iowa and Ohio. The president won comfortably thanks to a large minor-party vote, but polls show Mr. Biden excelling among those who supported Gary Johnson and others in 2016. If Mr. Biden is faring well in Alaska, it will certainly fit a pattern. He has been doing really well in Northern rural states with an independent streak, like Maine and Montana.
As tantalizing as it may be, the state probably wouldnât turn blue unless there was a blowout. A blue Alaska could have some important consequences for the U.S. Senate, but we donât anticipate it deciding the presidential election. (I could go on about the extremely remote possibility that the Alaska House race decides an Electoral College tie in Mr. Bidenâs favor, even if the state voted for Mr. Trump, but these posts are supposed to be short â maybe some other time.)
Elsewhere. Most of the polling today was of â¦ varying quality. But it was nonetheless consistent with what we already thought. I would highlight Mr. Bidenâs five-point lead in the Monmouth national poll. Thatâs one of Mr. Trumpâs best results in a while, and it was by far his best news of the day. And many of the state polls in the Sun Belt, like in Nevada or North Carolina, were consistent with a competitive race, as they have been for most of the month.
A majority of likely voters in Pennsylvania â 51 percent â said they trusted Mr. Biden more to pick the next Supreme Court justice, whereas 44 percent said that about President Trump.
Nearly half of all voters, 47 percent, âstrongly disapproveâ of how Mr. Trump handles his job as president, evidence of entrenched opposition with five weeks until Election Day and voting already underway in Pennsylvania. A smaller share, 32 percent, strongly disapproved of Mr. Biden.
In a close race, the presidential election could be decided by an unlikely spot: Nebraskaâs Second Congressional District, including Omaha and most of its suburbs.
If the race is decided there, Joe Biden appears to have the advantage, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. He leads President Trump by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent, among likely voters in the first nonpartisan survey of the district so far this year, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The district is traditionally Republican, but Mr. Trump carried it by only two percentage points in 2016. It was even closer than familiar battleground states like Arizona or North Carolina.
The districtâs demographics have made it an even more plausible pickup opportunity for Mr. Biden. Itâs relatively white, metropolitan and well educated, and national polls routinely show Mr. Biden running ahead of Hillary Clintonâs 2016 performance among all three groups.
Two polls, two substantial Biden leads. Joe Biden has been leading by about seven points nationally for as long as this page has been on the internet, and thereâs no indication thatâs changing. A new Times/Siena poll Sunday found him ahead by eight points, and a new ABC News/Washington Post poll had similar findings.
One twist: The ABC/Post poll released two sets of results for the presidential race. Mr. Biden led by 10 points in a one-on-one matchup against the president, but he led by six points in a four-way race with named minor-party candidates. Most polls asking both versions of the question havenât shown anywhere near so large a gap, but Mr. Biden has tended to do about a point worse when the minor-party candidates are listed.
As an aside, our tables will average multiple versions of a poll, which is why they show Mr. Biden with an eight-point lead in the ABC/Post poll. At least in this case, that may be closer to the truth: Naming the minor-party candidates can often inflate their support, but itâs not a true one-on-one race either.
Be careful with new polls in Wisconsin and Michigan. There has been no shortage of good news for Mr. Biden in the Upper Midwest, and this weekend was no exception. NBC/Marist polls showed him with a significant lead in Michigan and Wisconsin. But this time, itâs worth taking those results with a grain of salt: Theyâre not weighted by education.
(Weighting by education is critical for understanding modern polling and what went wrong in 2016.) In practice, it means the NBC/Marist polls probably have too many college graduates represented and are probably too good for Mr. Biden.
Strong Democratic results in the Senate. CBS/YouGov joined a long list of firms to show very close races in Georgia and North Carolina. It also offered some promising news for Democrats in their pursuit of the Senate. It found Cal Cunningham up by 10 points against the Republican incumbent, Thom Tillis, in North Carolina, and even found Senator Lindsey Graham locked in a tight race with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. Another poll, conducted by a Democratic firm, even found Mr. Harrison narrowly ahead.
State of the race at the end of the day: The same as it was on Friday: A solid lead for Joe Biden.
A clear majority of voters believe the winner of the presidential election should decide who will fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. About 56 percent of likely voters said they preferred to have the election act as a sort of referendum on the vacancy. Only 41 percent said they wanted President Trump to appoint a justice before November.
The coronavirus pandemic, economic distress and racial justice protests have done little to reshape a presidential campaign that polls show has been remarkably stable. Joe Bidenâs eight-point lead nationally is propelled by a wide advantage among women and voters of color. Mr. Biden has made gains among constituencies that strongly favored the president in 2016, including men and older voters.
There werenât many polls today, which is expected. Itâs a Friday, and many pollsters will try to produce a final poll just before the debate Tuesday. That means theyâre probably in the field or just wrapping up right now.
The polls we did get largely reinforced the big picture: a solid Biden lead, but with President Trump keeping it somewhat closer in the battleground states likeliest to decide the election.
To feel comfortable, Mr. Biden has one goal: claim a solid lead in just one more state. He has a fairly consistent lead in the states won by Hillary Clinton, plus Wisconsin and Michigan. From there, any other flipped battleground state would get him over the top. But that final piece â probably Pennsylvania, Florida or Arizona â hasnât always given Mr. Biden a consistent or comfortable lead. Sometimes the polls are good for Mr. Biden. Sometimes theyâre good for the president. The same can be said of todayâs polls.
Data for Progress, and Bidenâs discomfort. Taken together, the Data for Progress results could be considered fine for Mr. Biden. The Texas result (Trump only +1) again raises the possibility that Mr. Biden could win in a landslide with more than 400 electoral votes.
But if the Data for Progress results are viewed through the lens of Mr. Bidenâs quest for one last state with a comfortable lead, then none of the results are particularly good for him. Theyâre all fairly close, and Mr. Bidenâs worst result â trailing by one in Arizona â comes in the state where it seemed most likely that Mr. Biden had a good shot of claiming some security.
Hereâs a different way of looking at it: Mr. Trump can keep his hopes alive as long as he stays close in Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona, but heâd be in serious jeopardy if any one of them slipped out of play. Todayâs polls kept them in play.
A Democratic poll of Nevada thatâs not so great for Biden? Thereâs also the poll of Nevada from ALG Research, a Democratic pollster. Itâs a somewhat curious release. As a rule, the quality of partisan polls is as high as that of any reputable public pollster, but most of them are used only internally. Which means if youâre seeing a partisan poll released in the wild, itâs because someone wanted you to see it.
In this case, itâs not a particularly great result for Mr. Biden. Heâs up four points in Nevada, a state Mrs. Clinton won in 2016, and it comes just after a Fox News poll showed Mr. Biden up by double digits there. Usually, partisan polls are released because they show good news for the partyâs candidate. So why release bad news? Perhaps if youâre legitimately worried about a state, and want to make sure people take it seriously.
An early Supreme Court tidbit. ABC/Washington Post had a good set of numbers for Democrats on the coming Supreme Court battle, suggesting that more people trusted Mr. Biden to choose a Supreme Court justice, or would prefer that the winner of the election get to choose. The poll was taken before the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, which undoubtedly could have a big effect on public opinion. But the results suggest that Democrats start on firm ground at the outset of whatâs sure to be a bitter fight.
More national data to come. Weâll get a lot more data this weekend, including a new Times/Siena national poll, the rest of the ABC/Washington Post poll, and almost certainly more.
Historically, a lot of the major national pollsters like to conduct a poll just ahead of the debates, so they can come back and see how things change afterward. This year, the Supreme Court vacancy gives the big pollsters even more reason to weigh in.
The polls just ahead of the first debate tend to be pretty accurate. Hereâs one that might surprise you: Four years ago, Mrs. Clinton led by just 1.2 points in national polling heading into the first debate, according to FiveThirtyEight. She wound up winning the national vote by 2.1 points â the pre-debate polling was even closer to the election result than the (already fairly accurate) final national poll numbers.
Today was a pretty typical day of polling for this point in the race. There were a lot of polls. Some were good and some were bad â whether in terms of quality or what it meant for your preferred candidate. But if you took all the polls together Thursday, you wound up in about the same spot you started at the beginning of the day, though Fox News did try to shake things up at the very end.
If youâre a Biden supporter, you might have taken a measure of happiness from encouraging results in Ohio, Georgia and Iowa, including our own Times/Siena polls. You might also have fretted about your lowest national number from YouGov in a long time, or been disappointed that your dream of a Blue Texas was a little farther (down by three in our poll) from reality than you hoped. But the polls were almost exactly in line with the average in the most important battleground states, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona.
If youâre a Trump supporter, you may have found encouragement in YouGov numbers showing a mere five-point race nationwide and a tighter contest in Wisconsin and Michigan than other pollsters have found. But there was nothing that would have changed the fact that the president was behind in polling in states worth upward of 350 electoral votes, including Ohio and Iowa, which Mr. Trump carried easily four years ago.
Now about those Fox polls â¦ The well-regarded Fox News polling team released three state surveys, in Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania. They were awfully good for Mr. Biden.
Fox has him up 11 in Nevada, a figure that evokes the ð emoji. Fox also has Mr. Biden up seven in Pennsylvania, the kind of result he had been looking for in recent days. And the poll showed Mr. Biden up five points in Ohio, a state Mr. Trump carried by eight points in 2016.
Itâs great news for Mr. Biden, but itâs worth taking these results with a grain of salt. Fox News state polls have consistently had fantastic results for Mr. Biden, including near double-digit leads for him in Arizona and Wisconsin immediately after the Republican convention. And itâs also worth mentioning that the Fox polls tilted pretty far to the left in key 2018 Senate races.
Ohio, really? The biggest eye-popper is Ohio. Fox wasnât alone in showing Mr. Biden ahead. Quinnipiac had him up by a point. Even if you assume these pollsters tend to produce results that tilt to the left, they still support the idea of a highly competitive race.
Itâs been a bit hard to know what to expect from Ohio. There havenât been many high-quality polls there in 2020, and the polls severely underestimated Republicans in 2016 and 2018. The state is traditionally highly competitive, but it swung so hard to Mr. Trump in 2016 that few would have put it toward center of the electoral map.
If youâve been following along here, youâll have noticed that many of the states with the biggest shifts toward Mr. Biden have been relatively white states in the North or Upper Midwest, like Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ohio isnât exactly like those states, but the northwestern part of the state is somewhat similar to the rest of the Farm Belt, and the Trump campaign has aired plenty of advertisements in the state. Taken together, it seems we should consider pretty seriously that itâs a close race there at this point.
State of the race at the end of the day: Still solid for Biden, and if the Ohio polls are any indication, a little better for him than it was yesterday.
Over the last few weeks, Joe Biden has often seemed to do well in the state polls but not necessarily in the national polls. Today, itâs the opposite, and that makes it a fine day to roll out a new chart of the difference between our poll average nationwide and in the so-called tipping-point state:
Whatâs the tipping-point state? Itâs the one that would get either candidate his 270th electoral vote if he won every other state thatâs more favorable to him. In 2016, it was Wisconsin: If Hillary Clinton had won every state where she was stronger than Wisconsin (the states she carried, plus Pennsylvania and Michigan), then it all would have come down to Wisconsin, the tipping point.
Back in 2016, Donald J. Trump won Wisconsin by 0.8 percentage points, while he lost the national vote by 2.1 points. That three-point difference is a measurement of the presidentâs relative edge in the Electoral College, and thatâs about what our poll averages say today.
As you can see, the presidentâs relative edge in the Electoral College appeared to grow a bit Wednesday because Mr. Biden did well in the national polls but somewhat poorly in the state polls.
A good day for Trump in state polling. If youâve been reading along recently, you know that Mr. Biden has had a good run of polls in Michigan and Wisconsin. Thatâs enough for 258 electoral votes â just short of the 270 needed to win â if you also give him the states carried by Mrs. Clinton.
From there, he would need one more state: maybe Arizona (in conjunction with Nebraskaâs Second District or Maineâs Second District) or Florida or Pennsylvania. And while that might seem easy enough, President Trump has stayed somewhat competitive in polls of those states. On Wednesday, he was particularly competitive in these states:
If you scan down the list, you wonât see too many polls suggesting that Mr. Biden is up by more than seven points (as he is nationwide) in Arizona, Florida or Pennsylvania. Youâll even see something we havenât seen much of so far this year: the color red.
Trumpâs best polls of the cycle? ABC/Washington Post found the president leading in Arizona and Florida. When you factor in the firm, the polls are arguably his best of the whole cycle.
The ABC/Post poll is a high-quality survey. Itâs so good that it has tended to beat the average of all other polls in a race. But it can also be a somewhat noisy poll, especially at small sample sizes like these, since it doesnât have many ways to control the composition of the sample, like weight on party registration. (You may recall an eyepopper in the other direction from the ABC/Post poll last week, showing Mr. Biden with a 16-point lead in Minnesota. Same idea.)
Outlying results are a common â and expected â part of polling, even from the best pollsters. Thatâs part of why the average of all polls is helpful. The average shows Mr. Biden with a slight or modest advantage in both Arizona and Florida, and he has similar edges there in the other polls published today.
But thereâs no way to confuse these polls with the kind of results weâve seen nationwide or in Wisconsin. And until thatâs true, the presidentâs path to re-election will be a bit easier than the national polls suggest.
A good day for Biden everywhere else. Well, everything else looked pretty good for Mr. Biden.
Almost all the national polls showed him ahead by at least seven points. A Monmouth poll showed the president with a modest lead in Georgia, which counts as a pretty good result for Mr. Trump at this point. Weâll get another reading on the race there â as well as in Iowa and Texas â from our Times/Siena College polls tomorrow.
State of the race at the end of the day Today was not a good day for Mr. Biden by the measure that matters most: whether he has a clear and comfortable lead in states worth 270 electoral votes. Even so, he still leads in our average of Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania â and therefore in the race for the White House.
We often focus on the battleground states that decided the last election and seem likeliest to decide the next one. Today, we got polls from two states that Donald J. Trump won handily in 2016, and theyâre an important reminder of the wide range of possibilities in this election.
An even race in Iowa and Georgia. We havenât had much high-quality polling in either Iowa or Georgia recently, but we got one for each state Tuesday: from Ann Selzer in Iowa and from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Georgia (conducted by the University of Georgia). They found the same result: a tie.
The Des Moines Register poll of Iowa, conducted by Ms. Selzer, is always highly anticipated: She is one of the most respected pollsters in the country. This time, it comes as the Biden campaign begins airing advertisements in the state. Itâs not hard to see why.
What the results donât have in common. These polls share something important: They show tied races in states that Mr. Trump won fairly comfortably in 2016 (by nine in Iowa and by five in Georgia). But whatâs behind these shifts is quite different.
In Iowa, Joe Biden seems to be securing large, broad gains among white voters. Heâs benefiting from a similar shift across the Northern and mostly white battleground states â think Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine.
In Georgia, thereâs a shift among college-educated white voters, particularly in the well-educated suburbs of Atlanta. But the stateâs white working-class population remains staunchly Republican. Unlike in Iowa, demographic changes are also on Mr. Bidenâs side. Georgia is growing fast, and itâs increasingly diverse.
Landslide? Georgia and Iowa might be competitive, but for Mr. Biden victories there would probably merely be icing on the cake: If he has won them, heâs almost certainly already won other battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania, on track to a total nearing 400 electoral votes.
Thatâs a genuine possibility. Weâre all understandably focused on the states likeliest to decide the election, like Pennsylvania and Florida. Those states remain close enough that Mr. Trump remains competitive. But states like Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa also remain very competitive. In fact, theyâre even closer than Florida or Pennsylvania â so close that a Biden landslide is just as real a possibility as a Trump victory.
Hereâs a different way to think about it: If Mr. Biden outperformed todayâs polls by just two points, he would be declared the winner early on election night. Florida would be called by around 8 p.m., and Texas could be the state that makes Mr. Biden the president-elect. (Yes, Texas). Heâd have a good shot at the largest electoral vote landslide since 1988.
But if Mr. Trump outperformed the polls by the same margin, suddenly weâd have an extraordinarily close race on our hands, potentially waiting days or weeks while mail-in votes were counted in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
How is it possible for the race to teeter on the edge between a landslide and a close contest? A lot of it depends on the presidentâs apparent resilience in Pennsylvania and Florida. There arenât a ton of polls in these states, so itâs possible that Mr. Biden has a wider lead than we think. But Mr. Biden holds just under a five-point lead in Pennsylvania and a two-point lead in Florida, according to our averages, even as he fights to a draw in places where Democrats havenât won in decades.
If Mr. Biden has gained as much in Pennsylvania and Florida as it seems he has in Iowa and Texas, this would be a different story.
Not much new nationally. We did see a pair of national polls with Mr. Biden up by seven points, more or less consistent with our average.
State of the race at the end of the day: Mr. Bidenâs leading in major battlegrounds, and even in a few states that Mr. Trump won handily four years ago. A landslide is still possible. But until Mr. Biden claims a more consistent and wider lead in a state like Pennsylvania â more like his seven-point lead nationwide â Mr. Trump will remain more competitive than you might guess from the steady stream of poll results hinting at a possible blowout.
A poll that had seemed to show a shifting race really didnât show much change at all.
A new look from U.S.C. tracking. On Monday, the U.S.C.-Dornsife tracking poll released a new cut of its data. The results were eye-popping: It turns out that its previous poll results didnât mean what many people â including me â thought they meant. The new results are good news for Joe Biden.
This is not an ordinary tracking poll. Itâs a panel survey, which means respondents are contacted repeatedly. The benefit of a panel survey is potentially significant: If the results change, itâs because the attitudes of the respondents change, not because of changes in the composition of the sample. This was an ominous sign for Mr. Biden: His lead in the survey fell to just seven points, down from 12, from Sept. 11 to 17, suggesting a tightening race.
But it turns out that the U.S.C. pollsters were doing something odd. They showed their last seven days of results, but interviewed each respondent only once every two weeks. The problem is that one week of respondents was relatively favorable to Mr. Biden, just by chance, while another was relatively favorable to President Trump. As a result, U.S.C.âs results oscillated between a wide Biden lead and a tighter race, depending on whether the last week of interviews was the good or bad week for Mr. Biden. It turned the pollâs potential biggest advantage â the ability to track change over time â into a liability.
Today, U.S.C. released the results over two weeks, not just one, and they tell a totally different story. The poll now shows a fundamentally stable race, with Mr. Biden maintaining something like a 10-point lead, rather than a volatile race that has swung from Biden plus-13 to Biden plus-7 and back. With U.S.C. showing less change, an important point in the case for substantial tightening can be crossed off the list. Mr. Bidenâs lead bounced back to seven points in our average as a result.
Nope, still no shy Trump voters. There has been no shortage of articles about the possibility that President Trumpâs supporters are part of a silent majority that, as a group, do not reveal their true vote intention to pollsters. Morning Consult decided to put the theory to the test, and on Monday released the results of a new experiment.
It found a group of voters online, then conducted the survey with half of the respondents over the phone and the other half online. If voters were afraid to divulge their support for the president, the theory goes, perhaps Mr. Trump would have more support online, where supporters wouldnât have to express their views to a person on the phone.
The survey found that it didnât make much of a difference. (It did make a difference for some socially awkward or possibly embarrassing questions, like those about peopleâs personal finances or attitudes about discrimination.)
Itâs still possible that such voters exist. Even if they donât, the polls can be wrong for all sorts of other reasons. But thereâs really just no serious evidence to support the idea that these voters exist in meaningful numbers, and there was no such evidence in 2016, either.
A look ahead to the bottom of the table. So far, weâve mainly focused on the states likely to decide the race. This week, the polls seem poised to focus on a different group of states: those that are highly competitive and yet unlikely to tip the election, like Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. The reason is simple: If Mr. Biden were to win them, he has probably won already. He has probably won Arizona if heâs won Texas; he has probably won Wisconsin if heâs won Iowa; he has probably won North Carolina if heâs won Georgia.
You can find these states at the bottom of our poll average table on this page. As you can see, Mr. Biden could easily win these states. And if he did, it would be a blowout.
So far this week, weâve received two polls of these states: a YouGov poll showing Mr. Trump up by just two points in Texas and a Democratic GBAO poll showing Biden up by three in Georgia.
On Tuesday, weâll get an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of Georgia. At some point soon, weâll get the presidential results from the vaunted Ann Selzer poll of Iowa.
To this point, polling in these states has been highly competitive. Weâll see what the results suggest.
State of the race at the end of the day: It still seems like a comfortable Biden lead.
It will be a while until we have a good understanding of public opinion in the aftermath of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Most high-quality polls are conducted over three or more days, so weâll have to wait to see many full poll results. Even then, those results will reflect only the state of play at the outset of whatâs sure to be a long fight.
The early results are decent for Biden. We do have our first results from a few quick online surveys. YouGov found that voters didnât want President Trump to appoint a new Supreme Court justice before the 2021 presidential inauguration, by a margin of 51 percent to 42 percent, and that if President Trump did appoint a new justice, they did not want the Senate to seat him or her.
Ipsos found that a much larger majority of Americans â 62 percent â think that the winner of the presidential election should replace Justice Ginsburg, while just 23 percent disagreed.
Why the big difference? Question wording. The results of issue questions are often highly sensitive to the wording of the question. In this case, the huge difference between the Ipsos and YouGov results might be explained by a common bias in questionnaire design: acquiescence bias.
In general, people tend to be nice and agreeable, so questions that simply ask voters to agree or disagree with a statement will generally find higher support for âagreementâ than a similar question with a forced choice between opposing ideas.
In this case, if the pollster simply asks whether the respondent agrees that the winner of the election should replace Justice Ginsburg, most voters might say âyes.â But if you give the same respondents a second option â whether President Trump should choose the nominee â you can bet that plenty of Trump supporters would take the option, even though they might have agreed, if asked the other question, that the winner should decide. Thatâs probably a better reflection of the politics of the issue.
More of the same in the horse race. There werenât too many polls this weekend, but most of them were very consistent with what we thought we already knew: a modest but still significant advantage for Joe Biden.
Maybe the most noteworthy one was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the first live-interview, education-weighted national survey in a while. It found Mr. Biden up by eight points among registered voters, with a net one-point shift in the presidentâs direction since August. On balance, thatâs better for Mr. Biden than both the trend line and the average.
Status of the polls at the end of the day: Waiting to see how Supreme Court politics will reshape the race.
Weâve been lucky to have a lot of high-quality state polling this month. It has given us a really good look at several states where we received almost no high-quality polling in 2016, like Minnesota and Wisconsin. At times, these polls have suggested that Joe Biden is faring extremely well.
But the wave of state polling has come at a cost: fewer national polls. On Friday, we got some. And they werenât as great for Mr. Biden as the state polls, raising some questions.
Cloudy national picture The national polls contained a mix of good and bad news for both sides.
The good news for Mr. Biden: Ipsos, Data For Progress and Global Strategy Group/GBAO/Navigator Research showed him with a comfortable lead and holding his ground â or gaining â compared with prior surveys.
A four-point lead for Mr. Biden from AP/NORC, a particularly bad number for him when you consider the poll is of all Americans, not likely or registered voters, and its prior survey showed him up by 12 in June.
A seven-point lead from U.S.C./Dornsife, which remains about four points smaller than it was a week ago.
In the middle is an eight-point lead for Mr. Biden from NPR/Marist. The trend line here is decent enough for Mr. Biden, but the poll is not weighted for education, which usually means the poll underestimates the president.
Why the national polls matter The national popular vote wonât decide the election, as Hillary Clinton can attest. So who cares about the national polls?
They have one really important use: We can track change over time. Most firms have conducted several national polls this year, so we can say how things have changed over recent months. Polls by the same firm in the same state, on the other hand, tend to happen less frequently. That makes it hard to say whether things have been changing over the last few weeks.
Taken in isolation, the national polls we do have over the last week suggest that the race is stable or even moving a bit toward the president, who now trails by just six points in our average.
A state-national gap? In contrast, the state polls in the last week most certainly do not suggest that the race is moving toward the president, or that thereâs a six-point race nationally.
Todayâs polls were no exception. Hereâs one simple way to look at it: If you take a straight average, Mr. Biden ran about 8.7 points ahead of Mrs. Clinton across all of the state polls Friday. Add that to her 2.1-point victory in the popular vote, and maybe youâd guess Mr. Biden was up 10.8 points nationwide. You can see that for yourself on the right-hand column of our daily poll tables, if you havenât noticed:
What explains the difference? Noise is always a possibility, and it could also go in the other direction â we could get a Biden +16 result from a high-quality pollster tomorrow, for instance. But I do think that would be a bit of a surprise, given how many mid-single-digit results weâve seen this week.
Another possibility is that Mr. Biden has actually lost a bit of ground nationally while holding his own or is even gaining in the battleground states. Thatâs certainly plausible, especially since Mr. Biden has tended to make his largest gains among white voters, who are disproportionately overrepresented in the battleground states, while struggling to match Mrs. Clintonâs numbers among nonwhite voters. Where is Mr. Bidenâs best state poll result today, compared with the 2016 result? Itâs Maine, the state where non-Hispanic whites represent the largest share of the population in the country.
There are other possible differences, like the effect of campaign ad spending. The polling firms could be relevant, too: The state polling firms have generally been of higher quality. But state and national polls have generally been in alignment this cycle. If this recent difference persists, weâll really dive in.
State of the race at the end of the day Mr. Biden ends the week with a clear advantage in the battlegrounds, but still some question marks about whether or how things are shifting nationally.
The good part for Mr. Biden is simple: On Thursday, he led in every poll of North Carolina, Florida and Arizona â five polls in all. President Trump carried all of these states four years ago. Together, winning those states would probably put Mr. Biden well over 300 electoral votes.
The good news for the president is that he didnât trail in any of those states by very much, and he stayed close in a state that has seemed in danger of slipping away: Arizona.
Trump still hanging on in Arizona? On Wednesday, I noted that if you penciled in Wisconsin and Michigan for Mr. Biden â given his recent run of strong leads there from high-quality pollsters â he would essentially be one battleground state away from crossing 270 electoral votes. The most plausible options are probably Pennsylvania or Arizona, assuming he also carries Nebraskaâs Second District.
The polls have been pretty split in Arizona, with some showing a close race and others showing a commanding Biden lead. With Mr. Biden eyeing just one more state with a comfortable edge, a commanding Biden lead in Arizona would have significant consequences for the electoral map.
He led a Monmouth University poll by a slim margin, while a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed him up by five. That latter result is probably closer to two or three points because itâs a poll of registered voters, rather than of likely voters. Arizona is a state where a poll of registered voters will overstate Democratic support quite a bit because it has a large and heavily Democratic, but relatively low-turnout, Latino vote.
Arizona voted for Mr. Trump by 3.5 points in 2016, so itâs hard to consider the results bad news for Mr. Biden. But if heâs up by only three points in the state, as todayâs polls might suggest, maybe Pennsylvania â where there has been less polling recently â might be the better option for Mr. Biden to find his 270th electoral vote. And the polls havenât been all been great for Mr. Biden there, either.
Think twice about that Biden lead in North Carolina Today there was a Suffolk University poll showing Mr. Biden up by four points in North Carolina, which would be a strong showing in a state where our averages suggest a dead heat.
Unfortunately, this poll has a major problem: The share of respondents who are college graduates is too big. In polling lingo, this means they didnât âweight by education,â and itâs critical for understanding modern polling and what went wrong in 2016.
The problem is simple. College graduates are likelier to take political surveys, but they are also far likelier to oppose Mr. Trump. So if pollsters donât do anything to make sure they properly represent people without a college degree, theyâll have results that are too good for Democrats. The most common way to address this is to âweightâ by education, which simply means you give more weight to your respondents who arenât college graduates. Many pollsters didnât weight by education in 2016, and itâs one of the major reasons the state polls were biased toward Hillary Clinton. Many state pollsters have addressed this since then. Suffolk doesnât appear to be one of them.
If you look at the poll release, Suffolk reports that about 49 percent of its respondents have a college degree or higher. This is way too high, and particularly a problem in North Carolina. The state has a huge educational divide among white voters: Mr. Biden routinely wins white college graduates in North Carolina polls in liberal bastions like Raleigh, Durham and Asheville, but Mr. Trump can lead white voters without a degree by 50 points in rural evangelical areas.
Pew recently published a handy table of estimates for the share of the electorate with a college degree. As it notes, thereâs no such thing as the ârightâ number, since youâre trying to estimate the composition of an electorate in an election that hasnât happened yet. But the truth is probably closer to Pewâs estimate for North Carolina, 38 percent. (The Times/Siena polls have that number at 37.) This poll would almost certainly have been much better for the president if it had been weighted by education. In a state like North Carolina, it could have erased all of Mr. Bidenâs lead in the survey.
Best for last: On Friday, New NYT/Siena College polls in Maine, Arizona and North Carolina My colleagues Alexander Burns and Matt Stevens will have the story, with some key Senate results, posting first thing in the morning. Keep an eye out for it.
State of the race at the end of the day A clear Biden advantage, but still searching for a comfortable lead in the 270th electoral vote.
Another good day for Biden in Wisconsin. On Tuesday, I said that weâd have an unusually clear picture of the race in Wisconsin if the ABC News/Washington Post poll Wednesday found Joe Biden ahead by at least five points. Thatâs exactly what we got: The poll showed Mr. Biden up by six points among likely voters in Wisconsin.
It puts him in a strong position in the state, hovering at or above 50 percent with a consistent lead in an unusual number of recent high-quality surveys.
Wisconsin was the âtipping pointâ state in 2016 â the one that pushed President Trump over the Electoral College threshold. It remains crucial to Mr. Trumpâs re-election hopes, and many thought Wisconsin would be a real challenge for Mr. Biden. The state has a large share of white working-class voters, who swung hard to Mr. Trump in 2016. On top of that, Mr. Biden seemed to be weaker in the suburbs of Milwaukee than he was in suburbs elsewhere in the country. And finally, the unrest in Kenosha last month seemed to give Mr. Trump another opening.
But unrest in Kenosha didnât lead to a change in the state of the race in Wisconsin, and that might say a lot about the national political environment. If the president canât break through in Wisconsin now â in the immediate aftermath of the Republican convention and unrest in Kenosha â when could he?
If you pencil in Mr. Bidenâs leads in Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan, heâs essentially one flipped battleground state away from crossing 270 electoral votes.
An eye-popper in Minnesota ABC News/Washington Post also released a poll of neighboring Minnesota, showing Mr. Biden ahead by 16 points in a state Hillary Clinton won by only 1.5 in 2016.
To be clear: Itâs pretty unlikely that Mr. Biden is actually ahead by 16 points in Minnesota. Itâs probably a noisy, outlying result. But the poll joins a host of other high-quality surveys â including from CBS News/YouGov and The New York Times/Siena College â showing Mr. Biden ahead by at least nine points in the state. His lead might not be 16 points, but itâs large, and itâs real.
An even bigger eye-popper in Maine Quinnipiac released a poll of Maine with incredibly strong results for Democrats: a 21-point lead for Mr. Biden in a state Mrs. Clinton won by only three points in 2016, and a 12-point lead for the Democrat Sara Gideon in a hotly contested race against the incumbent Republican senator, Susan Collins.
A word of caution: Quinnipiac has leaned quite a bit to the left in this cycle; I recommend nudging these to the right a few points in your head before taking them to the bank. And thatâs even before considering the possibility that itâs an outlier, like the ABC/Washington Post poll in Minnesota. That said, you could cut Mr. Bidenâs lead in half and it would still be a strong result for Democrats.
Most of all, know that Maine is a very underpolled state. Itâs hard to say itâs an outlier without any other polls for comparison. Tread carefully. Fortunately, weâll have a second opinion in a few days from a Times/Siena College poll.
A split between state and national polls? If you look over the state polls so far this week, you see a run of strong results for Mr. Biden â some of his best of the cycle. But if you look at the national releases, you see stability, or even a bit of tightening.
One possibility is that itâs just noise: The national polling is pretty sparse and often of fairly questionable quality. And some of the state polling for Mr. Biden â like the Quinnipiac poll â comes from firms with a record of showing him doing particularly well.
But itâs also possible that it reflects a real split, perhaps driven by demographics: Most of the great results for Mr. Biden in recent state polls have come in overwhelmingly white states, and there are plenty of national (and state) poll results suggesting that Mr. Biden is running ahead of Mrs. Clinton among white voters but faring worse among nonwhite voters. If so, it might lead to seemingly surprising results for Mr. Biden in overwhelmingly white states like Minnesota and Maine without corresponding national leads.
Of course, itâs not necessarily a bad trade for Mr. Biden. After all, Mrs. Clinton probably would have traded a few points nationwide for greater support in the Midwest.
Good news for Democrats in the Senate. Along with the wide lead for Democrats in Maine, Quinnipiac found a tied race in the South Carolina Senate race. And OH Predictive Insights found the Democratic challenger Mark Kelly up by 10 points in his Arizona Senate race. Theyâre not the first polls to show an unexpectedly tight race in South Carolina and a wide lead for Democrats in Arizona. Weâll get another poll in Arizona on Thursday from Monmouth University.
This is around the time when convention bounces start to diminish. Itâs still too soon to say whether President Trumpâs bounce will fade or endure, but Tuesday was arguably Joe Bidenâs best day of state polls since the Republican National Convention.
The best news for Biden in a while in Florida. A poll from Monmouth University showed Mr. Biden up four percentage points among likely voters on average, his best result from a nonpartisan, live interview pollster there in several weeks. He held a wide lead in Florida over the summer, but it has gradually slipped â in part because of a somewhat surprising weakness among Latino voters. The Monmouth poll shows no signs of that weakness today, with Mr. Biden leading by 26 points among Hispanic voters, comparable to Hillary Clintonâs performance four years ago. If Mr. Biden can match Mrs. Clinton among Hispanic voters, heâll be in a strong position: Polls consistently show Mr. Biden running ahead of Mrs. Clinton among white voters.
Now, gauging the support of Hispanic voters in Florida is not easy. About a third of the stateâs Hispanic voters are Cuban, and they are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Miami area â the toughest area of the state to reach in a survey. As a group, those voters lean Republican. But the other two-thirds are heavily Democratic and live across the state. On top of that, Hispanic voters are harder to reach in general. Theyâre younger and concentrated in urban areas, and many speak Spanish as a first language, which adds further difficulties â and costs â for pollsters.
All that to say: In Florida a lot will hinge on how pollsters can measure a relatively small group of hard-to-reach voters. So interpret any single result among Latino voters with caution, especially in Florida.
Another poll showing Trump trailing badly in Wisconsin. One place where the polls have offered consistently bad news for the president is Wisconsin, where Mr. Biden has held a steady lead. Today, a CNN/SSRS poll added to the consensus by showing Mr. Biden up by 10 points, one of his largest leads there this cycle. The firm also gave Mr. Biden a three-point lead in North Carolina, another result consistent with a clear national advantage for the former vice president. One note of caution: CNN/SSRS polls have tended to tilt to the left compared with the average of polls so far this cycle, as well as in 2018.
Tomorrow, we expect another poll of Wisconsin from ABC News/Washington Post. If it joins the club of high-quality pollsters showing at least a five- or six-point lead for Mr. Biden, that would yield about as clear of a picture as youâre going to get in a battleground state so far from an election.
A stable day nationwide. There werenât many national polls today, but the handful we did get were largely consistent with their prior results and with a fairly stable race.
Odds and ends Morning Consult had a relatively weak result for Mr. Biden in Minnesota, though thereâs plenty of other recent polling there showing Mr. Biden with a wider lead. Florida Atlantic University showed a tied race in Florida, though the firm doesnât have much of a track record and its methodology is a mixed bag. Virginia Commonwealth University gave Mr. Biden a double-digit lead in Virginia.
Simple as it is, âWhat do the polls say?â is by far the question Iâm asked most â by my colleagues, my editors, my friends and family, and by hundreds of you on Twitter. Even if youâre not looking for polls, it can sometimes feel as if the polls find you. More often than not, confusion follows.
Thatâs why we built this page. Ideally, itâs a place where you can get the state of the race at a glance and the polling news of the day, just about every day.
Most days, Iâll summarize the most recent polling. Sometimes, that summary will be ânothing much happened,â and you can go about your day. Other days, Iâll highlight major polls or longer-term trends, or Iâll go on a bit of a methodological digression that might help you make sense of the sometimes arcane world of polling. Or maybe an individual poll result will make enough of a splash to merit a post of its own.
Youâll find polling averages of the most competitive states. The goal is to summarize the state of the polls. Itâs not a forecast or a prediction. Just because weâre showing you the average of public polls doesnât mean weâre telling you that theyâll be right. The polls have been wrong before, and theyâll be wrong again.But despite their flaws, polls remain the best way to measure attitudes across a huge and diverse country. We might not even be aware that an election is close if we talk only to our like-minded friends and relatives. (For those who want to know more about our polling averages, we published a detailed account of our methodology here.)
Youâll also see a table showing what the results might look like if the polls are off by about as much as they were in the last two presidential races. Of course, the polls could be more accurate, less accurate or exactly the same as they were the last two times. And this particular measure â the average error over the final three weeks â is a little unfair to those pollsters, who tended to produce more accurate results over the final week. But it serves as a simple reminder that thereâs still a wide range of possible results on Nov. 3.
Youâll find information about our polls, conducted in partnership with Siena College. Weâll be polling nearly nonstop between now and the election. Weâll have more to say about our specific plans soon.
And finally, a big thanks to our friends at FiveThirtyEight, who compile polling data, including the set used here, and make it available to the public. And, of course, to the pollsters themselves, who do the hard (and expensive) work of conducting these surveys in the first place.
Our poll averages include all polls collected by FiveThirtyEight. The estimates adjust for a variety of factors, including whether a poll represents likely voters, whether other polls have shifted since a poll was conducted, and whether a pollster has leaned toward one candidate in a state or nationwide. Polls are weighted by recency, sample size, and by whether they’re conducted by a firm with a track record of success. More details here. Source for polls: FiveThirtyEight polling database. * In Maine and Nebraska, two electoral votes are apportioned to the winner of the state popular vote, and the rest of the votes are given to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district. (Maine has two congressional districts, and Nebraska has three.) â Poll error in 2016 is calculated using averages of state polls conducted within three weeks of Election Day.
News – Biden leads by enough to withstand a polling misfire.