Where Biden, Trump stand in key swing states

by Jonathan Easley

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Trump in national polling, but the race is closer in the key battleground states that will determine who wins the White House.

Here’s a look at where the race stands in six swing states that will have an outsize impact on the November election.


The Biden campaign says this traditionally red state, which has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee only once in the past 70 years, is up for grabs in 2020.

The polling bears that out.

Biden leads Trump by 4 points in the RealClearPolitics average. He’s led by between 1 point and 9 points in every survey conducted since March. The most recent OH Predictive Insights (OHPI) poll found Biden ahead by 7 points.

The former vice president is outperforming Trump on the strength of his support among independents and older voters. Both groups broke for Trump in 2016.

And suburban voters — particularly women and white people with a college education — have continued their drift toward Democrats, helping to elect Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who in 2018 became the first Democrat to represent Arizona in the upper chamber since 1995.

Democrat Mark Kelly appears to be on a glide path to joining Sinema in the Senate, as he leads Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) by 13 points in the OHPI poll. That survey found Kelly opening up an 18-point lead over McSally in Maricopa County, which surrounds Phoenix and is the key to statewide victory in Arizona.

Republicans aren’t panicking yet, believing that Trump is dragged down at the moment by the coronavirus and the economic shutdown and that the polls are capturing him at his low point.

They believe Arizona will come home to Republicans as it usually does in November. But nonpartisan analysts agree: The Grand Canyon State is a pure toss-up in 2020.


The perennial swing state went for Trump by only 1 point in 2016, and all signs point to another photo finish in the battleground state with the most Electoral College votes up for grabs.

Biden has a narrow edge in the RealClearPolitics average, leading by 3.3 points, but recent surveys show the race is within the margin of error, and the underlying data points toward a contest that could go either way.

While Trump’s job approval rating has fallen nationally amid the coronavirus pandemic, most Florida polls show him holding steady near his high point, with a Fox News poll showing him in positive territory, at 51 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove. That poll also found Biden ahead 46 percent to 43 percent.

Biden leads Trump among independents in the state by between 2 points and 11 points in three recent surveys that all found the former vice president with a narrow lead.

The Fox News poll found that Trump has big leads among conservatives, whites without a college education and white voters overall — but his margins are smaller with all of these groups than they were in 2016.

Biden, meanwhile, is running up the score among women, Latinos and independents in the poll. He’s overperforming 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton among women and independents, but he’s underperforming among Hispanics. 

The race may hinge on which direction older people break. A St. Pete Polls survey that found Trump and Biden tied also found them running neck and neck among voters over the age of 50.


In 2016, Trump unexpectedly turned Michigan red for the first time in a presidential contest since 1988.

But Trump carried the Wolverine State by only about 10,000 votes, and he faces a difficult challenge there in 2020, as four polls released this month find him trailing by between 3 points and 9 points.

The Hodas & Associates poll that found Biden ahead by 9 points put Trump’s favorability rating deep underwater, at 39 percent positive and 56 percent negative.

Democrats see an opportunity in third-party voters and people who didn’t vote in 2016. Trump won the state by 0.2 points, with 4.7 percent having voted for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

A recent Change Research survey that found Biden leading Trump by 3 points in Michigan ascribed half of that advantage to former Johnson or Stein voters or to those who sat out in 2016 but said they would vote in 2020.

Michigan has been hit hard by the coronavirus, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), a potential running mate for Biden, is far outpacing Trump when it comes to job approval around the pandemic.

A poll from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling put Whitmer’s job approval on the virus at 17 points positive, compared with 9 points negative for Trump.

North Carolina

Trump is performing better in the Tar Heel State than in any of the other five battlegrounds, but he still leads Biden by only 1 point in the RealClearPolitics average. Trump won North Carolina by 3.5 points in 2016.

Polling is sparse — there has been only one survey released this month.

The East Carolina University (ECU) poll found Trump leading Biden by 3 points.

The president’s job approval rating is higher in North Carolina than in other parts of the country, with ECU putting him at 48 positive and 47 percent negative. A Civitas-Harper survey from early April that found Trump ahead by 7 points found his job approval rating at 52 percent.

However, a WRAL-Survey USA poll from late April found Biden ahead of Trump by 5 points in North Carolina. The former vice president crushes Trump in the poll by more than 25 points on the question of who is best equipped to deal with the coronavirus.


The Keystone State went narrowly for Trump in 2016 after going for the Democratic presidential candidate in every prior race dating back to 1988.

Biden, who was born in Scranton and feels a kinship to the blue-collar workers there, has a wider lead in Pennsylvania than in any other battleground. He leads by 6.5 points in the RealClearPolitics average.

A recent Fox News poll that found Biden leading by 8 points underscores Trump’s challenge.

The president won white voters without a college degree by 31 points in Pennsylvania in 2016. He leads by only 8 points in the Fox News poll.

Biden, meanwhile, is mopping up among women, nonwhite voters and those over the age of 65. Biden leads by a stunning 19 points among older voters in the Fox News poll.

A Susquehanna Polling & Research survey that found Biden ahead by 6 points also found Trump and Biden running even in central Pennsylvania — the rural area between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that drove Trump’s 2016 victory.


Democrats view Wisconsin, with its predominantly white electorate, as the least likely of the “blue wall” states to return to their column in 2020.

But polling shows Biden holding a small but consistent lead in the state. He leads Trump by 2.7 points in the RealClearPolitics average.

There has been only one poll conducted in Wisconsin over the past two months.

The Marquette University survey found Biden ahead by 3 points — within the margin of error.

Fifty-four percent approve of Trump’s handling of the economy. But only 44 percent approve of his handling of the coronavirus, while 64 percent approve of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) handling of the pandemic.

Jonathan Easley National Political Reporter for The Hill. @JonEasley


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