A new poll places Joe Biden roughly on par with President Donald Trump in two southern states, suggesting the presidential race could be competitive in the fall.
CBS News polls of registered voters released on Sunday show Biden just ahead of Trump in North Carolina, with 48% support for the president’s 44%, and a close race in Georgia, with the alleged Democratic candidate at 46% versus 45 % of Trump.
These leads, however, can be even smaller than they appear – the North Carolina poll has a 3.9 percentage point margin of error, while the Georgia poll has a 3 percentage point margin of error. , 4 percentage points. Those margins mean Trump could be a little ahead in either state, or both.
Trump won both states with relatively slim margins in 2016, but the proximity of the candidates suggests that Biden could, as some national polls suggest, reduce Trump’s advantage among white voters – and that a poor federal response to the coronavirus pandemic could play a role in voter feelings.
Overall, CBS pollsters found that Trump was down 12 percentage points in Georgia and 7 percentage points in North Carolina with white voters compared to his 2016 results.
At the same time, Biden is grappling with white voters where Hillary Clinton was in 2016. Pollsters predict that, given Biden’s large lead among black voters, the race will depend in part on how well Biden can still reduce the blank vote. While other polls show he has made inroads among white voters in the upper Midwest – particularly Michigan and Ohio – his gains among white residents of the southern states have not been as strong.
Biden also has a slight edge among female voters in both states, the new polls show, and a significant lead among black voters, while Trump scored slightly better for her economic performance.
Voters in both states say Biden would do a better job of dealing with the coronavirus, although most Republicans say Trump is doing a good job with the pandemic.
North Carolina went for Obama in 2008, and Romney and Trump in 2012 and 2016, but a Democratic presidential candidate has not won Georgia since Bill Clinton’s first race in 1992. In both states, Democratic support comes mainly from the big cities, fueled largely by black voters in places like Raleigh and Atlanta.
These polls don’t mean Biden will win North Carolina or Georgia in November
Polls, as Vox’s Li Zhou explained, are only a snapshot of a moment, and this presidential cycle is unusually turbulent, taking place amid a pandemic and social unrest. The political situation in the United States could change dramatically in the months leading up to the election, just as it was very different in January.
The voters change their mind; some who answer polls end up not voting. As Zhou noted, excessive reliance on polls led Democrats astray in 2016.
In the last presidential cycle, polls lacked all kinds of models, leading Democrats to underestimate the strength of Trump’s support in key battlefield states.
In the aftermath of that election, Democrats found pollsters ignored factors like education in building their respondent pools and ignored undecided voters who voted for Trump at the last minute.
These errors, along with a tendency to view poll results as static rather than dynamic, have led Democrats to overestimate their party’s position in some states – namely Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – and to hijack them. campaign resources on their part, to get caught. guard by the level of support for Trump’s campaign.
Many pollsters have corrected the errors that skewed polls four years ago, but those corrections don’t negate the fact that polls like the ones CBS conducted in North Carolina and Georgia only show what people in those polls. States are thinking of candidates right now.
This means that there are reasons to be wary of polls which now find Biden in front and Trump behind in those battlefield states, the key state of Florida and even more traditionally Republican states like Arizona and the United States. Texas.
And as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cast uncertainty on both campaign efforts and models of voter turnout – and as communities struggle to implement adequate substitutes for in-person voting – it is fair to say that voters’ intentions and November’s voting patterns may ultimately diverge.
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