Twenty-four days and counting… It’s time to crunch the numbers.
Poll after poll shows Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden with a commanding lead over President Trump, both nationally and in key states. And after days of unparalleled chaos surrounding the White House there’s a feeling this thing is getting away from the President.
As Peggy Noonan wrote for the Wall Street Journal: “This is also the week that journalists and politicos in Washington began wondering about something they never expected to be thinking about this year. They are wondering if November 3rd won’t be a win for Joe Biden but a blowout, a landslide in a polarized country that doesn’t produce landslides anymore.”
But let’s catch our collective breath for a moment. Remember how many outlets were predicting a landslide for Hillary Clinton in 2016? Despite her shocking defeat, the national polls largely got it right. At the end of the 2016 cycle, the Real Clear Politics average had Clinton winning the popular vote by 3.2 percentage points, and she did win the popular vote by 2.1 percentage points.
These polls from October of 2016 had Clinton up by the following margins:
And now those recent polls show Biden up by the following margins:
Even Rasmussen research, which many regard as right-leaning, showed Clinton ahead by 4 in 2016. Now they have Biden up nationally by 12 percentage points.
But many Democrats are still traumatized by the polling missteps in 2016, which overlooked the strength of Trump’s support in battleground states. So, let’s compare what the state polls said in 2016 – and what they’re saying now.
Hillary Clinton lost Wisconsin by less than one percentage point. But a Marquette University Law School poll had Clinton up by seven percentage points in October of 2016. That same Marquette poll now shows Joe Biden with only a 5-point lead. At this same point in 2016, Reuters Ipsos had the Wisconsin race too close to call. 2020 Reuters Ipsos has Biden by 6 in Wisconsin.
Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point, but New York Times/Siena poll had Clinton up by 7 in late October of 2016. That same poll in early October of 2020 also has Biden up by 7. Also in Pennsylvania, a Quinnipiac poll had Clinton up by five percentage points in late October of 2016. Today, that same poll shows Biden up by a much wider margin of 13 percentage points. Monmouth at this time in 2016 gave Clinton at 10 point lead in the Commonwealth. Monmouth currently has Biden up 12 in Pennsylvania.
Now let’s look at Michigan – another state Hillary Clinton lost by less than one percent. At this exact week in 2016, Clinton led by 11 percentage points in an EPIC-MRA poll. We don’t have that same poll this year, but the most recent NBC News/Marist poll of the state gives Biden an 8-point edge. In 2016, Emerson had Clinton over Trump in Michigan by 7. Now, Emerson has Biden winning Michigan by 10.
What about Florida? Clinton lost those 29 electoral votes by about one percentage point. October 17th 2016 – a Quinnipiac poll in Florida had Clinton edges Trump by 4 points. Currently, Quinnipiac has Biden up by 11 in Florida.
And other states play an essential role in the big picture:
Trump won the state of Iowa by about nine percentage points in 2016. The October Quinnipiac survey of Iowa had Clinton and Trump in a virtual tie. The 2020 Quinnipiac has Biden leading by 5.
Clinton edged out Trump in Minnesota by about one percentage point. SurveyUSA had Clinton with a 10-point lead in Minnesota. Now, they show Biden up by 7. And finally, Missouri.
Trump walloped Clinton there by about 18%. The Real Clear Politics polling average in 2016 Trump up by 18.5 – pretty much spot on. Now, the Missouri RCP Average has Trump leading by 7.
Bottom line: Both the national and state polls are telling a similar story. It’s one of Joe Biden holding a comfortable lead with just about three weeks until the final day of voting. There’s not a single poll I can point to either nationally or in a battleground state that reads differently.
Yes, that sounds a lot like 2016, but the margins by which Biden leads Trump are, in some instances, larger than by which Clinton lead Trump 4 years ago.
Still, it all comes down to turnout.
Using the perfect blend of analysis and humor, Michael Smerconish delivers engaging, thought-provoking, and balanced dialogue on today’s political arena and the long-term implications of the polarization in politics. In addition to his acclaimed work as nationally syndicated Sirius XM Radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, and New York Times best-selling author, Michael Smerconish hosts CNN’s Smerconish, which airs live on Saturday at 9:00 am ET