Election 2020 polls: Biden is now more popular than Obama in 2008


Joe Biden questions at this point in the race not only much better than Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 cycle, but also even better than the man he served as vice president for, Barack Obama.

Pulling an electoral rabbit out of the hat like in 2016, when he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by roughly three million, is Trump’s only plausible path to victory. And as of October 14, the RealClearPolitics card allocates 197 electoral votes out of the 270 necessary for any candidate, because the advantage of the ballot is not decisive enough to get him out of this category of “toss-up”. Biden clearly has 216 votes in his column compared to only 125 for Trump.

In 2016, on the eve of the election, the RCP had Clinton ahead of Trump 203 to 164 with 171 in the “toss-up” category. Trump ended up winning 83%.

In 2012, Obama won 89.7% of toss-ups, dropping from 201 in the final estimate to 332 in his election results against Mitt Romney. And in 2008, Obama won 68 percent of the 128 electoral votes cast to beat John McCain, 365-173.

Two things are important to observe here. The first is that Biden has locked in a higher share of the vote now than at the end of the previous two cycles, according to historical data from RCP. And the raffle states tend to break down sharply for a candidate – an average of 80 percent since 2008. If that average holds true for Biden, he would win around 375 electoral votes. But if Trump succeeded in rocking states at this average rate, he would (barely) exceed his victory threshold (achieving around 280 planned electoral votes).

The current poll in the toss-up / swing states indicates that Biden is much more likely to carve out the lion’s share of those general election votes. The former vice president draws 48.7% of the sample in swing states, compared to just 44.2% for Clinton in 2016. Combined with Trump’s share, undecided voters / thirds of this cycle are less than the half (6.2 points) of their total at the end of the last cycle (12.5 points). This leaves Trump with far fewer persuasive voters than needed to topple Biden.

To make swing states – and therefore elections – a breeze, Trump would need to win four out of five voters who are not currently signing up for any of the candidates. It is much more than the 57%. 100 he won in the last cycle when he was the candidate for “change”, compared to the incumbent he is today.

Even worse for Trump, Biden dominates the toss-up slate. In the last cycle, those states were essentially divided, nine with Clinton leading on the eve of the election and eight with Trump. Clinton ended up winning six of his nine and Trump seven of his eight. In the recent sample, Biden leads in 11 of 12, accounting for 151 of 189 available votes (Trump only leads in Texas, 38).

What further complicates matters for Trump is that state polls lag behind national polls. Given that Biden has surged in national polls over the past two weeks, his current state-level advantage is likely even greater than reflected in state polls, according to the Princeton Election Consortium.


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