Trump vs. Biden: All The Latest Polls & How They Compare To 2016

US President Donald Trump holds a press conference on the economy, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2020. - The US economy regained 2.5 million jobs in May as coronavirus pandemic shutdowns began to ease, sending the unemployment rate falling to 13.3 percent, the Labor Department reported on June 5. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP) Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about economic recovery during a campaign event at Colonial Early Education Program at the Colwyck Center on July 21, 2020 in New Castle, Delaware. Biden took no questions from the press at the conclusion of the event. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
This article has been updated to include the latest information.
With just four weeks until Americans decide whether they want four more years of President Donald Trump, several national and state polls are seeing dramatic movement — mostly to Joe Biden’s advantage. Questions about how Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and the chaotic, much-criticized first debate would impact the polls are starting to be answered, and it’s not looking great for the convalescent incumbent. Polls that were tightening just two weeks ago are reversing course on both the national and state level, though the gap in the states, where the race is decided, is less daunting for Trump than the national polls.
National Polls
On June 23, at the height of the compounding COVID-19, economic, and racial unrest crises — which the openly Trump-hostile mainstream media have repeatedly laid at the feet of the president — Biden led Trump in the national polls by an average of 10.2% (51.1–40.9). Those polls tightened to about 7 points mid-September. Now, at the end of the first week of October, with one debate under their belts and one candidate recovering from Covid, Biden’s lead has expanded to 9.2 (51.3-42.1), according to RealClearPolitics’ average of the national polls.
That 2-point movement comes in large part because of two post-debate polls that showed major movement toward Biden: First an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of registered voters (not just likely voters, like most of the other polls), taken after the first debate but before Trump’s diagnosis, found Biden’s lead growing to 14 points (53–39). A few days later, a CNN poll of likely voters favored Biden by an even more imposing 16 points (47–41). Here’s how CNN sums up its post-first debate findings
Joe Biden’s advantage over President Donald Trump has expanded and the former vice president now holds his widest lead of the cycle with less than a month remaining before Election Day, according to a new nationwide CNN Poll conducted by SSRS. Among likely voters, 57% say they back Biden and 41% Trump in the poll that was conducted entirely after the first debate and mostly after the President’s coronavirus infection was made public.
A CNBC/Change Research poll conducted 9/29-30 found Biden with a 13-point lead. Other polls suggest, however, that the race is much tighter. A post-debate JTN/RMG Research poll found Biden leading by 8 points, while a recent IBD/TIPP poll found Biden’s leading shrinking to just 3 points. A polls by The Hill/Harris X gives Biden a 7-point advantage. Here’s the breakdown of the six most recent polls (movement on polls we tracked last month are noted):
  • CNN (10/1-4) — Biden +16 (up from Biden +8 a month ago)
  • JTN/RMG Research (10/1-3) — Biden +8
  • NBC News/WSJ (9/30-10/1) — Biden +14
  • IBD/TIPP (9/30-10/1) — Biden +3 (down from Biden +8) 
  • The Hill/HarrisX (9/30-10/1) — Biden +7 (up from Biden +6)
  • CNBC/Change Research (9/29-30) — Biden +13
How does this compare to 2016?
At the same point in the previous presidential election cycle (Oct. 11), Hillary Clinton led Trump in the national polls by an average of 6 points (47.9–41.9). By Election Day 2016 (Nov. 8), Clinton’s lead had diminished to 3.2%. Clinton would go on to win the popular vote by 2.1% but lose the Electoral College by a wide margin (304–227).
The 2016 polls were far more volatile than 2020, the gap between Clinton and Trump repeatedly expanding and shrinking dramatically — with Trump at times even taking a razor-thin lead. That hasn’t been the case in 2020. For the first part of the year, through mid-March, the gap between Biden and Trump steadily held at around 5%. As the pandemic lockdowns began, the divide roughly doubled, reaching its June 23 peak of 10.2%, by which point the George Floyd-sparked protests and riots were in full swing. Biden’s advantage shrunk to just 5.8% mid-September but has since expanded.
Battleground States
While the national polls can be helpful in trying to gauge widespread public sentiment and momentum, the election, of course, isn’t decided by the popular vote — the data that matters the most comes from the states. The problem is, as 2016 demonstrated, state polling is often more inaccurate due in part to less thorough information. Trump’s 304–227 electoral defeat of Clinton in 2016, despite heading into election day with a predicted loss of at least 6 votes, was a product of multiple election day reversals in key battleground states: polls showed Trump trailing in Michigan by 3.4 (he won by 1); Trump trailed by 6.5 points in Wisconsin (won by 1); Trump trailed by 2 in Pennsylvania (won by 1).
There are realistically only about 12 true battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Of those, Trump must win Texas and likely Florida to have any chance. Along with those two major states, Trump likely needs at minimum another 6 to 7 states to gain enough electoral votes to win. Right now, Trump is not favored in most of the battleground states, though some (like Iowa, Georgia, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina) have razor-thin margins. Here’s where things stand in the key battleground states, according to RCP’s averages:
  • Arizona — Biden +3.4 (down from Biden +5 a month ago) — 2016: Trump won by 3.6
  • Georgia — Biden +0.3 (flipped from Trump +1.8) — 2016: Trump won by 5
  • Florida — Biden +2.3 (up from Biden +1.8) — 2016: Trump won by 1.2
  • Iowa — Biden +0.5 (flipped from Trump +1.7) — 2016: Trump won by 9.4
  • Michigan — Biden +5.8 (up from Biden +2.6) — 2016: Trump won by 0.2
  • Minnesota — Biden +9.4 (up from Biden +5) — 2016: Trump lost by 1.5
  • Nevada — Biden +5.8 (up from Biden +4) — 2016: Trump lost by 2.4
  • Ohio — Biden +1.2 (down from Biden +2.4) — 2016: Trump won by 8
  • North Carolina — Biden +1.2 (up from Biden +0.6) — 2016: Trump won by 3.6
  • Pennsylvania — Biden +6.6 (up from Biden +4.2) — 2016: Trump won by 1.7
  • Texas — Trump +3.2 (down from Trump +3.5) — 2016: Trump won by 9
  • Wisconsin — Biden +6 (up from Biden +3.2) — 2016: Trump won by 0.7
For those looking for hope for Trump, here’s a postmortem on how much the state pollsters botched the 2016 election. Below is how the Electoral College map is shaping up 12 weeks out:

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