With the Democratic field finally narrowed down to a presumptive Joe Biden candidacy, it’s time to start examining where the race stands between the former Vice President and President Trump. Similar to the case in 2016, where Hillary Clinton stood strong on the coasts and Donald Trump saw an insurgence in the south and midwest, the 2020 race appears to be starting on a similar footing.
A slew of new polling gives President Trump a one-point lead among six key battleground states, the states which will likely determine the outcome in 2020. On the flip side, Joe Biden leads nationally among registered voters.
First, the battleground numbers from a CNBC/Change Research poll showing Trump struggling with Coronavirus handling, yet still able to notch a virtual tie among poll respondents in six key states:
The Republican incumbent and apparent Democratic nominee are virtually tied in the battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to States of Play, a joint CNBC/Change Research survey of swing states. Trump edges Biden by a 48% to 47% margin across those states, the poll found.
Among the other key findings:
- The coronavirus: 51% said Biden and Democrats would do a better job handling the outbreak, while 49% chose Trump and Republicans
- Preventing another pandemic: 51% Biden to 49% Trump
- Recovering from a recession: 50% Biden to 50% Trump
- The economy: 52% Trump to 48% Biden
- Creating jobs: 51% Trump to 49% Biden
- Helping your pocketbook: 51% Trump to 49% Biden
- Putting the middle class first: 52% Biden to 48% Trump
- Making health care more affordable: 52% Biden to 48% Trump
- Relying on facts and science to make decisions: 52% Biden to 48% Trump
- The stock market: 57% Trump to 43% Biden
The numbers are close, but they skew slightly toward President Trump in relation to the economy and creating jobs. The question is whether the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic will create a situation where Trump’s economic numbers continue to nosedive and don’t recover anywhere near as impressive as they have been for the past 18 to 24 months.
In the states that count most under the Electoral College system, Trump continues to hang on while Biden starts the race in a virtual tie. This means that the decision for a vice presidential pick could be more crucial than ever considering the razor-thin margin.
Outside of the battleground states, looking at national numbers, Biden is leading by a healthy amount. The latest numbers from Reuters/Ipsos give Biden a sizable lead:
The latest survey from Reuters and Ipsos, which was conducted from April 15 to 21, showed that 47 percent of registered voters backed Biden while just 39 percent said they’d support Trump in the presidential election. That’s an increase of 2 percent support for Biden since the poll was conducted the previous week, and an increase of 4 percent from two weeks back.
National numbers make for a good headline and a good fundraising pitch, but they don’t necessarily translate into electoral victory. Just ask Hillary Clinton. Trump’s campaign is built for a unique slice of the country that holds a distinct advantage which leaves national poll numbers almost meaningless. Well, they’re not meaningless, it’s crucial to gauge how generally popular a candidate is. Based on these numbers it seems Biden will be picking up broad support in the deep-blue strongholds just as Hillary did four years ago.
As the country grapples with COVID-19, the poll numbers will shift and hinge more and more on the economic circumstances of individuals and small businesses. When and how various states can re-open, and whether there is a significant increase in the spread of the disease will be directly related to how voters eventually look back on President Trump’s handling of the crisis.