Poll 2020: Biden eats the base of Trump’s rust belt


This is just the latest Pennsylvania poll to show Biden an advantage. A Fox News poll in mid-July put Biden’s margin at 11 points.

What’s the point: Trump won the 2016 election in large part because he was successful in breaking through the great “blue” wall of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He did it on the backs of white voters, and in particular white voters without a college degree. This led to those infamous memes of journalists looking for voters at restaurants across America.

But today, Biden is leading Trump to these Great Lake (or Rust Belt) battlefields because he eats Trump’s margins among those same groups. These gains have big implications for the Electoral College, as they suggest the easiest path to Biden’s victory could be through these three states.

Biden is clearly leading in an average of the last three polls approved by CNN in the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. On average, Biden is up 9 points in Michigan, 11 points in Pennsylvania and 10 points in Wisconsin.

Biden’s upward trajectory is due to vast improvements among white voters by comparing Biden’s position in each poll to how Clinton did with them in an average of post-election estimates from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study and the Center for American Progress.

Post-election estimates aren’t the most ideal comparison to pre-election polls, which would be accurate pre-election polls (these states are missing something in 2016). Like any poll (or poll average), these post-election estimates are subject to error.

Yet the magnitude of Biden’s rise over Clinton in those states is clear enough that it falls well outside the range of any statistical anomaly.

  • Michigan: Trump leads by an average of 3 points among white voters. Four years ago, Trump won among those voters by 15 points.
  • Pennsylvania: Biden is ahead of 3 points with white voters. In 2016, Trump won them by 15 points.
  • Wisconsin: Biden is up 6 points with White voters. Last election, Trump took them by 7 points.

The main thing to remember here is not the exact change in each state (which is subject to a margin of error), but that what we are seeing nationally when it comes to white voters is also happening in major Rust belt states. Using the nationwide method, Biden has gone from Clinton’s 15-point loss to a mere 3-point deficit against Trump in the latest live polls. (This is quite similar to the movement seen using the pre-election polls as the 2016 benchmark, which also shows a double-digit improvement for Biden.)

Obviously, the fact that Clinton underperformed his pre-election polls in those states should give us pause. Surprisingly, however, those rust belt numbers among white voters are so good for Biden that he’s in a considerably better position than even the last high-quality pre-election poll that looked rosy for Clinton in every state.

See the 2020 presidential poll

We can also take a closer look at white voters who have not graduated from college. Not all surveys provide this crosstab, so I combined the different states to get a sample large enough to compare. In the six surveys that included a crosstab for whites without a college degree, the trend is very clear.

Biden averages 12 points better among whites without a college degree than Clinton in the combined sample of the Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin polls. He obviously still lags behind white voters without a college degree, but the average margin is closer to 10 points in Trump’s favor than 20 points.

Again, this is quite similar to what we are seeing nationally. Biden scores about 10 points better among whites without a college degree than Clinton in a comparison between the current polls and the 2016 pre-election polls. This is why a model by Nate Cohn of the New York Times projected similar overall results in those polls. three states. outside national data.

That white voters and especially white voters without a college degree in the Rust Belt are moving in the same direction as these groups nationwide is a big deal because they make up a much larger share of the vote in the Belt. rust. White voters will likely represent 80% of voters north in Michigan and Pennsylvania and closer to 90% in Wisconsin in 2020. Nationally, that will be closer to 70%.

White voters without a college degree will likely make up the majority of voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It will be nearly 60% in Wisconsin. Nationally, whites without a college degree will make up only about 40% of the electorate.

In other words, the shift among white and white voters without a college degree that we’re currently seeing in the polls will have a bigger impact on the outcome in these key Rust Belt battlefield states.

Unsurprisingly, these three states swung harder in Biden’s direction than the national poll average. At this point, there isn’t much of a difference between the Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin state and national polls. If there is a difference, as it depends on the poll average, it is smaller than in 2016. That year, Trump exceeded his national margin by 2-3 points in those belt battlegrounds. rust.

This is a big deal because Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin combined have 46 electoral votes. If you add these to the 232 states that Clinton won in 2016, you get 278 electoral votes.

Biden wouldn’t need to win the other states Trump won to win the election.

If this trend continued until the election, Biden’s most reliable path to securing 270 electoral votes would be in the Rust Belt. Biden does better in these three Great Lakes states than in any of the other states Trump won in 2016.


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