Joe Biden maintains his considerable lead over President Donald Trump in the national polls, but there are reasons for the Democratic candidate to be concerned about the handful of key states that could ultimately make the election.
With only 19 days to go until the November 3rd election, Biden's position at the national level looks strong, according to major poll trackers.
They showed the following on Thursday morning:
The former vice president has maintained consistent leadership through these measures despite the turbulent and in many ways unprecedented state of American politics. One of the biggest changes in the race came last month, when Biden's electoral lead grew after Trump's broad debate and the revelation that he had contracted the coronavirus.
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Still, Biden has a narrower advantage in states likely to decide an electoral college victory.
RealClearPolitics' polls in six major battlefield states – Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina – currently show Biden 4.9 points ahead of Trump.
Those same states showed a larger void in the polls for former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton at the time in the 2016 race they lost to Trump. On October 15, 2016, Clinton was 5.4 percentage points above Trump in these key swing states, according to RealClearPolitics.
Republicans also outperform Democrats in voter registration in swing states. In North Carolina, for example, Democrats lead Republicans in registered voters with a difference of nearly 400,000. This is less than the same period in 2016 when the Democrats registered about 645,000 additional voters in the state.
Clinton was widely favored to win the 2016 election. While it garnered nearly 3 million more votes overall than its Republican rival, a series of close disruptions in the rust-belt swing states ultimately helped Trump get 306 votes and 232 for Clinton.
This time other factors also play a role.
Both of the major party candidates in 2016 were historically unpopular and voter turnout was historically low. That was a huge benefit for Trump, whose solid support base helped him overcome low national deserving ratings.
In 2020, fewer voters said they disliked Biden, while Trump's unpopularity was pretty consistent throughout his first term. For Biden, it is crucial that this pays off in the form of a voter turnout among independents who support the former vice-president more than the incumbent president.
Biden also collects tremendous amounts of money in the final leg of the race – and he focuses his expenses on swing states. According to ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics, the campaign has spent more than $ 500 million on television, digital, and radio advertising so far this year.
Trump's campaign has now gone dark in certain states and has shifted television advertising spending to Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. However, he has outperformed Biden on Facebook ads in several key states.
The coronavirus pandemic has also changed the breed. The Covid-19 crisis, which killed more than 216,000 people in the United States, is not only an electoral political problem, but also a catalyst for a massive change in the way Americans vote.
According to the US election project, more than 10.6 million voters have already cast their ballots in the November election on Tuesday morning – more than ten times higher than at that time in 2016. The expected deluge of postal ballot papers could increase voter turnout in between populations, but concerns about the ability of the US Postal Service to promptly handle the influx of election mail have increased.
There's one more confusing variable that may not even have been revealed: a possible October surprise.
Voters have learned to expect the unexpected in the month before a presidential election. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver said a letter from then FBI Director James Comey in late October announcing that the FBI had found "relevant" email on Clinton's private email server likely cost the Democrats a choice have.
A New York Post report published on Wednesday claiming to show emails about Biden and his son Hunter Biden titled "Smoking Gun" has already caused a stir.
The report has yet to be cross-checked by other news outlets, and many journalists have expressed strong skepticism about the story. It is alleged that Hunter Biden tried to set up a meeting between his father and a senior executive at a Ukrainian company he worked for while Joe Biden was vice president.
It is unclear whether the Post's report will have any tangible impact on the race. However, the president and his supporters have resisted Facebook and Twitter's decisions to limit the spread of the story on their platforms, accusing the tech giants of politically motivated censorship.
Biden's son was at the center of Trump's impeachment battle, which was largely centered on a phone call Trump called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to "investigate" the Biden. Trump was indicted in the house and acquitted in the Senate.
Andrew Bates, spokesman for the Biden campaign, harshly pushed back the Post's report.
"Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was deemed" illegitimate "and political by a GOP colleague have all come to the same conclusion: Joe Biden was persecuted Official US policy towards Ukraine Trump administration officials have affirmed these facts under oath, "said Bates.
"The New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story," he added. "You certainly never mentioned that Rudy Giuliani – widely reported on his discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with people connected to Russian intelligence – claimed to have such material."
"We also checked Joe Biden's official schedules from that time, and they never met as claimed by the New York Post," Bates said.