Elections 2020: Why the Biden Campaign Admits No Double-digit Lead

Biden's Team has a Critical Reason for 'Fessing Up

The Biden campaign has acknowledged that Joe Biden isn't beating Donald Trump by double-digits, per national polls. Why would Biden campaign operatives make this public admission? Principal reason: They fear that their voters might stay home thinking that Biden has the elections in the bag. And if the presidential contest is tight - and it is - voters taking early victory laps drive a stake right through the heart of Biden's chances at winning the White House.

The other key takeaway from the the Biden campaign admitting that their man is in a neck-and-neck race: They're conceding that the polls are flawed - or skewed deliberately.

Many national polls do two things that make their findings suspect: 1) they sample registered versus likely voters. Anywhere from 40%-50% of registered voters never cast ballots, for whatever reasons. 2) they over-weigh samples in favor of Democrats. Oversampling Democrat registered voters gives a distorted picture of the state of an election. And in the closing phase of a presidential election, even good national polls aren't necessarily indicative of the final outcome. Presidents win in the Electoral College, and a candidate must achieve 270 votes to gain the White House. What a candidate does in each state matters. So, it's more helpful to follow good polling, state-by-state... if you can find sound surveys!


Maine: The Pan Atlantic Research company polled the state of Maine, giving us the statewide count and results from the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts. Maine is one of two states that split their electoral votes, meaning that candidates can earn an EV for carrying a federal district. In 2016, though Hillary Clinton clinched the state, President Trump won the 2nd District and that provided him an extra national vote. It appears he will need the 2nd District again.

According to the Pan Atlantic data (10/2-6; 600 ME likely voters; online), former Vice President Joe Biden’s statewide lead over President Trump is 50-40%, which is similar to what other pollsters have detected. In the Democratic First Congressional District (300 ME likely voters), the Biden lead is 17 points, 54-37%. In the more conservative northern 2nd Congressional District (300 ME likely voters), Mr. Biden still leads, but the margin is only 47-43%. Considering that none of the three polls released here in 2016 ever showed Mr. Trump leading, and he would eventually win the 2nd by ten percentage points, a four-point deficit at this point is not a particularly daunting margin.

Fox Poll: In attempting to quantify the actual vote, pollsters are using different methods to determine if a “shy Trump voter” actually exists. That is, people who are voting for President Trump, but won’t say so. The idea at least partly explains why pollsters missed many states, particularly in the Great Lakes region, back in 2016.

The new Fox News Poll (10/3-6; 1,107 US registered voters; 1,012 likely voters; live interview) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump, 53-43%, on the national count, but when asked about who the respondents believe their neighbors are supporting, the numbers substantially change. Here, by a 48-39% margin, the respondents said they believe their neighbors are voting for President Trump. Many analysts believe the responses more accurately reflect the individual respondent’s actual beliefs. The neighbors spread represents a net 6-point swing on that question in President Trump’s favor from the Fox News August poll.


Arkansas: The first and only poll released for the Arkansas Senate race is now public, and the results are surprising. The main reason this race has attracted no national attention is because Sen. Tom Cotton (R) doesn’t have Democratic opposition. Only Libertarian Party member Ricky Harrington and Independent Dan Whitfield appear on the ballot opposite Sen. Cotton.

The American Research Group survey (10/7-9; 600 AR likely voters; live interview) finds the Senator leading Mr. Harrington, 49-38%, which appears low considering he has no major party opposition. Or, such a number could be a better reflection of the aforementioned “shy Trump (Republican) voter”, meaning the GOP candidates are consistently under-polling. It is highly likely that Sen. Cotton’s re-election percentage will exceed what this survey is projecting.

Georgia A & B: The School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia, the regular pollster for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution newspaper (9/27-10/6; 1,106 GA likely voters; live interview), finds a change in one of the state’s Senate races and a solidification for the other.

In the Georgia-A seat for the regular six-year term, Sen. David Perdue (R) has now expanded what was a tenuous lead over Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. The results find Sen. Perdue leading with his largest margin, eight percentage points, 49-41%. The survey also finds Democrat Raphael Warnock, the pastor at Dr. Martin Luther King’s former Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, potentially locking down first place in the jungle primary, but nowhere near the 50% mark to claim the seat. The totals find Rev. Warnock recording 28% support, with appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) following with 22 and 21%, respectively.

Two other pollsters, Landmark Communications and Public Policy Polling, see things a bit differently. Landmark (10/7; 600 GA likely voters) projects Sen. Perdue to be leading, 47-45% in the A-seat, while Rev. Warnock has a stronger 36-26-23% advantage over Sen. Loeffler and Rep. Collins. PPP (10/8-9; 528 GA voters) finds Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff with a one-point, 44-43% edge in Senate-A, while Rev. Warnock’s lead is an even larger 41-24-22% over Sen. Loeffler and Rep. Collins.

North Carolina: The Morning Consult research firm conducted a series of US Senate polls around the country (10/2-11; 1,993 NC likely voters; online through a pre-selected sampling universe) and tested the North Carolina race. Their results find Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham still leading Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-41%, which largely tracks with Monmouth University’s registered voter results (10/8-11; 500 NC likely voters; live interview) that project a 48-44% Cunningham edge. The Ipsos firm (10/7-13; 660 NC likely voters; online) also finds a four-point spread, 46-42 percent.

The Civiqs organization, later in the week and polling for the Daily Kos Elections site (10/11-14; 1,211 NC likely voters; online) projects Mr. Cunningham to a six-point, 51-45%, advantage. Emerson College (10/13-14; 711 NC likely voters; interactive voice response system), however, sees a much tighter affair. Their ballot test result finds that Cunningham’s lead is a bare 45-44%.

South Carolina: Early this week, we reported on a South Carolina Senate poll that found incumbent Lindsey Graham (R) taking as much as a six-point lead for the first time since July. The Morning Consult (10/2-11; 903 NC likely voters; online through a pre-selected sampling universe) survey found Sen. Graham claiming a 48-42% lead over former South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison who has raised an incredible $80+ million for his campaign. Then, Data for Progress countered with their survey (10/8-11; 801 SC likely voters; online) returning the race to a one-point contest, 47-46%, this time in Mr. Harrison’s favor.

Yesterday, however, we see a confirmation of the six-point margin, this time from Siena College/New York Times, an A+ rated pollster according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Siena/NYT (10/9-15; 605 SC likely voters; live interview) delivers a 46-40% split in Sen. Graham’s favor, similar to Morning Consult’s spread.

Texas: Sen. John Cornyn (R) received a break within the last few days and has immediately turned the development into a media ad intended for the black community.Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) announced that he will not vote for Democratic Senate nominee M.J. Hegar, who defeated him in the statewide runoff election, 52-48%.He particularly pointed out that Ms. Hegar doesn’t mesh with the black community, and Mr. Cornyn is wasting no time taking advantage of Sen. West’s statements. The Morning Consult series poll (10/2-11; 3,455 TX likely voters; online through a pre-selected sampling universe) finds Sen. Cornyn now holding a 47-38% lead, which is consistent with some of the most recent polling.

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