Polls: Biden leads Trump in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

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New CBS polls show alleged Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden 6 percentage points ahead of President Donald Trump among likely voters in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, crucial battlefield states Hillary Clinton lost by less than 1 point in the 2016 elections.

There is still plenty of time for things to change ahead of the election, and polls in battlefield states should be taken with a grain of salt, but results suggest Biden may have an advantage in belt states. rust that helped Trump secure his victory in 2016 – and that Trump’s botched response to the coronavirus crisis plays an important role in Biden’s assessments.

While the polls, which were conducted by YouGov on behalf of CBS between August 4 and 7, show Biden in the lead, it’s important to note that the former vice president’s lead is in the margin. error of the two polls, which means that Trump could in fact conduct a poll. a little better than Biden. In Pennsylvania, pollsters found Biden ahead of Trump with 49% support for the president’s 43%. This poll has a 3.7 percentage point margin of error, meaning Trump could have as much as 46.7% support and Biden as low as 45.3%.

The Wisconsin poll – which had a 3.8 percentage point margin of error – found that Biden was leading Trump from 48% to 42%.

In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, independent voters have proven to be in favor of Biden. Clinton lost this group in both states to Trump; and Biden also surpasses Clinton’s share of the vote among white voters with and without college degrees. It should be noted, however, that the two data points are not directly comparable – while the poll data in this case is from likely voters who may or may not go to the polls, the 2016 voting data is from voters who did, in fact, turn out.

Pollsters found the coronavirus pandemic to be closely related to candidate preference – in fact, in its analysis of survey data, CBS found that opinions about the pandemic were more strongly associated with voting than opinions. on the economy.

“Those who say the Wisconsin epidemic is a crisis vote for Biden even more than those who say the economy is very bad. The small group that thinks the epidemic is not much of a problem supports Mr. Trump in greater numbers than voters who say the state’s economy is good, ”the analysis said.

The public perception of the president’s response to the pandemic is very polarizing – and polls in recent months have shown that the public finds it to be the most important problem facing the country. CNN poll expert Harry Enten argued that this was bad news for Trump, as historical poll data suggests that “whoever has the most confidence on the non-economic issue is likely to win the election “.

The state ballot must be taken with a grain of salt

Polls in battlefield states matter – especially since U.S. presidential elections are determined by the constituency, not popular vote. But state polls also have significant limitations, and Biden’s steady advance in those states (including other states like Michigan, Florida, and North Carolina) shouldn’t be taken as a sign infallible of his victory in those States and of the general election.

Consider that a Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin at the end of October 2016 saw Clinton gain 6 percentage points – the same advantage Biden has in CBS polls in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – but Trump ultimately won the state by 0.7 points.

As Li Zhou of Vox explained, there are many reasons why a number of state polls in 2016 were irrelevant to the final election results. Some of them have been corrected during this election cycle – for example, heading into 2016, some polls overrepresented Clinton voters because they did not weight for education, and this n is no longer the case. (The CBS poll is weighted for education.)

But there are still a lot of obstacles. Voting is always a snapshot of a specific time and ultimately cannot give a definitive overview of the likelihood that a person who shares their preference with a pollster will actually show up to the voting booth on election day, nor can they necessarily predict. the tendencies of the late voters who decide their candidate in the final days before the election (which played a crucial role in Trump’s victory).

To add to the uncertainty, the pandemic makes forecasting based on polls particularly difficult, as Zhou explains:

Specifically, the use of postal voting due to the coronavirus pandemic makes predicting the composition of the electorate all the more difficult. It’s unclear how well the turnout will match that of previous years due to public health concerns about physical polling stations and questions about how many people will use the postal ballots instead.

“It’s hard to make a participation model because you don’t know who is going to participate. It’s going to be even more difficult in an election that has many mail-in votes, ”says Lonna Atkeson, professor of political science at the University of New Mexico.

Bottom line: The poll is promising for Biden, but the polls should not be confused with perfect predictions of the outcome.


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