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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Today’s 2020 Election Polls: Biden Is In A Much Stronger Polling Position Than Hillary

Topline

After three major national polls released this week showed Joe Biden ahead by double digits over President Trump, the Democratic nominee has jumped out to a 10 point lead on average in national polls, a much stronger position than Hillary Clinton was in at any point in the 2016 race. 

Key Facts

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday found Biden ahead by 12 points nationally among likely voters (55%-43%), the third national poll to find Biden ahead by double digits this week.

For the first time in the race, Biden leads by more than 10 points on average in national polls, according to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker

Clinton never reached that margin in national polling averages, and was ahead by 3-4 points in polling averages in the last few days before Election Day.

While Clinton did lead by 7 points in mid-October polling averages, she never eclipsed 50% support, as Biden has multiple times. 

A big difference from 2016 is also the decline in support for third party candidates, which is a big boost for Biden: a separate ABC News/Washington Post poll taken at this point in the race in 2016 found third party candidates polling at 7% combined support, while Sunday’s survey showed them garnering just 3% of the vote. 

Crucial Quote

Harry Enten, a polling analyst for CNN, writes that Biden is polling “better than any challenger since 1936…when the first scientific polls were taken in a presidential race.” “Even if every undecided or current third party voter went to Trump now, he’d still be down about 5 to 6 points nationally,” Enten writes. “That’s never been the case with an incumbent since 1936 at this point.”

Key Background

Though the election will be decided by battleground states in the Electoral College and it is possible for Biden to win by as much as 5 million votes and lose the election, national polling averages do correlate to how well the candidate performs in battleground states. Nate Silver, a polling expert and head of FiveThirtyEight used models to show how Biden’s margin in the popular vote translates to his chance of winning the election. If Biden wins by 0-1 percentage points in the Electoral College, he stands just a 6% chance of winning the election over Trump. If he wins by 1-2 points, he has a 22% chance, and so on. In 2016, Clinton won the popular vote by 2.1 points, but lost the Electoral College. 

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