Where things stand in 13 battleground states
The polls in battleground states are getting worse for President Trump.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is pulling away in four of the six core battlegrounds that represent each candidate’s likeliest path to the White House.
States that did not begin the cycle as competitive — Iowa and Ohio — are suddenly too close for comfort for Republicans. Trump and Biden are also running neck and neck in Texas and Georgia, two states that Democrats have long dreamed of turning blue.
The Trump campaign had hoped to flip a trio of states that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 — Minnesota, New Hampshire and New Mexico — but there is no evidence to suggest that those states are competitive.
A lot could change with just more than four months until Election Day. But at the moment, Biden has a wide path to the White House, and polls indicate that Trump could potentially face a wipeout that would do significant harm to the GOP’s efforts to hold the Senate.
Here’s a look at the state of the race in 13 battlegrounds.
The six core battlegrounds
The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of polls shows Biden leading Trump by 6 points or more in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The race is much closer in North Carolina and Arizona. Trump won all six in 2016.
There is almost no path to victory for Trump if he loses Florida. A Fox News survey released Thursday found Biden ahead there by 9 points. That’s a stunning margin for a state that rarely turns on more than 1 or 2 points.
Biden leads Trump by 20 points or more among women, independents and nonwhites in Florida, while Trump is doing worse among his core group of supporters from 2016 — older voters, white people and those without a college degree.
The same is true in the “blue wall” states that Trump narrowly won in 2016.
When the cycle began, Democrats viewed Wisconsin, which is predominantly white, as the toughest of the bunch to win back. According to the RCP average, Biden now leads by 8 points in Wisconsin.
The latest Marquette University survey of Wisconsin found Trump’s support among Republicans plunging by 10 points amid dissatisfaction with his handling of the coronavirus and protests over the death of George Floyd.
In Pennsylvania, a New York Times-Siena University poll released this week found Biden ahead by 10 points. Biden leads Trump by 5 points among white voters, and he mops up in the suburbs, where the former the vice president leads by 18 points.
The polling in Michigan, viewed by many as the likeliest blue wall state to flip back to Democrats, is a mixed bag, although Biden still leads by 8.6 points in the RCP average.
There have been three recent surveys showing Biden ahead by double digits in Michigan and two recent polls showing his lead at only 1 or 2 points.
A recent EPIC-MRA survey that found Biden ahead by 16 points got a lot of national attention.
But more recently, the Trafalgar Group found Biden ahead by only 1 point in Michigan. Trafalgar was the only pollster to find Trump leading in Michigan in 2016, when he carried the state by about 10,000 votes.
Trafalgar weights its polls to account for “social desirability bias,” or the so-called “shy” Trump voters who do not admit to pollsters that they support him. Pollster Robert Cahaly told The Hill there are more of these today than there were four years ago.
The polls in North Carolina and Arizona effectively show a toss-up.
Biden leads by 2.4 points in the RCP average of North Carolina. A recent Gravis survey there found Trump ahead by 3 points. Biden leads by 4 points in the RCP average of Arizona, where suburban voters have drifted away from the GOP since 2016.
Both states have competitive Senate races. In Arizona, Sen. Martha McSally (R) is running worse than Trump and appears to be in serious trouble against Mark Kelly, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and Democrat Cal Cunningham are locked in a race that appears to be headed to the wire.
Democratic eye opportunities for expansion
Trump’s campaign is spending money defending Iowa and Ohio, two states that weren’t on anyone’s radar at the beginning of the cycle. Biden has pulled even with Trump in both states, despite not allocating many resources there.
Trump won Ohio by 8 points in 2016, and many Democrats believed the demographic and cultural trends had pulled the Buckeye State completely out of their reach.
But a Quinnipiac University survey released this week found Biden ahead by 1 point. That poll followed a Fox News survey that showed Biden leading by 2 points. The Fox News poll found Trump leading Biden by 11 points on the economy. But Biden leads by healthy margins on the important issues of the day — race relations and the coronavirus.
Trump won Iowa by 9 points in 2016. The latest Des Moines Register survey finds him clinging to a 1-point lead now. The poll found that a majority of Iowans disapprove of the job Trump is doing on race relations, policing and the coronavirus. A strong majority, 63 percent, say the country is on the wrong track.
The Hawkeye State could get flooded with national money in the coming months as Republican groups rally to defend Sen. Joni Ernst (R), who faces a tough reelection fight against Democrat Theresa Greenfield.
Critically, Biden’s path to victory does not include either of these states. Trump must win both.
Republican opportunities for expansion
The Trump campaign has circled Minnesota, New Mexico and New Hampshire as blue battlegrounds it believes are primed to turn red.
There is very little polling of these states but nothing yet to set off alarms for Biden’s campaign.
The Trump campaign is spending in Minnesota, which has become a focal point in the debate over policing and systemic racism since Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
The Trump campaign is banking on voters rejecting the violence that has popped up amid largely peaceful protests and what they view as overreach by some Democrats on defunding the police. But the only survey of the state taken this month, a Gravis poll, found Biden leading by 16 points. A Star Tribune-Mason Dixon poll from mid-May found Biden ahead by 5 points.
In New Hampshire, which Hillary Clinton carried by fewer than 3,000 votes in 2016, Biden leads by 7 points, according to a recent St. Anselm survey.
A survey of New Mexico from left-leaning Public Policy Polling found Biden ahead by 14 points.
The Democratic wish list
Polls show both Texas and Georgia to be toss-ups, although operatives in both states have been hearing for years about how they’re at a tipping point.
In Texas, the latest Fox News survey found Biden leading by 1 point, while the latest Quinnipiac survey had Trump up by a point.
In Georgia, there has been only one survey released this month — a Fox News poll that found Biden ahead by 2 points.
Democrats made significant gains at the House level in Texas and Georgia in 2018. But they could not win the governor’s mansion in Georgia or a Senate seat in Texas that year despite a frenzy of liberal activism and national attention.
Both states will be fiercely contested in 2020, whether the presidential contenders pay much attention to them or not.
Texas has emerged as one of the premier House battlegrounds in the country, and there are two competitive Senate races this year in Georgia.