With the November election just six weeks away, Democratic Candidate Joe Biden continues to enjoy a polling lead over incumbent Donald Trump. Trump, the controversial Republican president, has sought to tie Biden’s name to civil unrest and the specter of “socialists” and “Antifa”.
However, none of Trump’s attacks on Biden seem to have stuck with the public. Instead, Biden continues to maintain a lead over Trump in several crucial battleground states.
A poll released Friday by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist shows that Biden is still in the lead, in spite of Trump’s insistence that polling showing him behind has been falsified. The survey shows likely voters prefer Biden 52 percent of the time, while Trump is only getting a 43 percent approval rating.
Nine percentage points is considerable in survey research, and is well above the margin of error for this poll.
Both candidates are pouring millions of dollars into campaign ads in the weeks leading up to the election. Campaign expense trackers are showing that the Biden campaign spend $65 million on ad buys this week alone.
Much of this ad purchasing took place in battleground states, where a narrow victory could break out into a huge Electoral College sweep. While Trump lags Biden on the national stage, the Electoral College is his focus.
Due to the nature of the Electoral College, Trump can lose the national vote and still become president. This happened in 2016: Hillary Clinton beat Trump by some three million votes, but didn’t win the Electors she needed to become president. Trump’s most likely path to reelection sees him following his 2016 trajectory.
However, troubling the president, this year is shaping up to look very different from 2016. Early returns from mail-in ballot requests show significant numbers of Democrats who didn’t vote in 2016 are now requesting ballots.
This means a considerable number of Democratic voters could be in the mix in tight races like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Helping Biden more, Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins was left off the ballot in some critical battleground states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Hawkins’ absence from those ballots could prove huge for Biden. In 2016, Green Party Candidate Jill Stein received enough votes in some states to make the difference between Trump and Clinton’s margins of votes. Many voters who typically vote Democrat voted for Stein, sometimes as a “protest” vote against Clinton. With Hawkins not present in some state ballots, Biden could stand a better shot of winning those narrow races.