Polls: Biden leads Trump in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

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

There’s still plenty of time to change things until the election, and battlefield state elections should be taken with a grain of salt, but the results suggest Biden may have an advantage in the Rust Belt states that helped Trump secure his 2016 victory. – and that Trump’s failed response to the coronavirus crisis plays a significant role in Biden’s ratings.

While the polls, which was conducted by YouGov on behalf of CBS between August 4 and 7, showing that Biden is in charge, it’s important to note that the former vice president’s lead falls within the margin of error of both polls, meaning Trump actually a little better than Biden. In Pennsylvania, pollsters found Biden ahead of Trump with 49 percent support for the president’s 43 percent. That poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, meaning Trump could have up to 46.7 percent support and Biden just 45.3 percent.

The Wisconsin poll – which had a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points – found that Biden Trump led 48 percent to 42 percent.

In both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, independent voters were found to prefer Biden. Clinton lost this group to Trump in both states; and Biden also outperforms Clinton’s share of the vote among white voters with and without college degrees. However, it should be noted that the two data points are not directly comparable – while poll data in this case comes from likely voters who may or may not actually go to the polls, the 2016 voting data comes from voters who did. , turn out.

Surveyors found that views about the coronavirus pandemic have a strong relationship with candidate preference – in fact, in analyzing the survey data, CBS found that views about the pandemic are more closely linked to votes than views about the economy.

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

Public perception of the president’s pandemic response is highly polarizing – and polls over the past few months have shown the public to believe it is so the main issue to the nation. CNN’s poll expert Harry Enten has argued This is bad news for Trump, as historical poll data suggests that “whoever has the most confidence in the non-economic issue is likely to win the election.”

State poll should be done with a grain of salt

Battlefield state polls are important – especially since the United States presidential election is determined by the electoral college and not a popular vote. But state research also has significant limitations, and Biden’s consistent edge in it (including other states such as Michigan, Florida, and North Carolina) should not be seen as an infallible sign of his victory in those states and the general election.

Think that a Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin in late October 2016, Clinton had passed 6 percentage points – the same advantage that Biden has in CBS ‘polls in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – but Trump ultimately won the state by 0.7 points.

As Vox’s Li Zhou explained, there are many reasons why a number of state polls in 2016 were inaccurate compared to the final election results. Some of these have been corrected during this election cycle – in the run-up to 2016, for example, there were some polls overrepresenting Clinton voters because they did not weigh on education, and that is no longer the case. (The CBS poll is weighted for education.)

But there are still many obstacles. A poll is always a snapshot of a specific time and ultimately cannot provide a definitive insight into the likelihood that someone who shares their preference with a pollster will actually show up at the polling booth on election day, nor can it necessarily show the patterns of late. to predict. voters who decide on their candidate in the last days before the election (something that was at play a critical role in Trump’s victory).

Adding to the uncertainty is that the pandemic makes poll-based predictions particularly difficult, as Zhou explains:

In particular, the use of postal voting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic makes it much more difficult to predict the composition of the electorate. It is unclear how closely the turnout will match previous years due to public health concerns over physical polling stations and questions about the number of people using post-in ballots instead.

“It is difficult to make a voter turnout model because you are not sure who will come. That becomes even more difficult in an election that involves a lot of voting by mail,” says political science professor Lonna Atkeson of the University of New Mexico.

In short, the polls are very promising for Biden, but polls should not be confused with perfect predictions of the outcome.

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