Coronavirus - we're here to help
From how to access your account online, scam awareness, your wellbeing and our community we're here to help.

Skip to main content
  • Register
  • Help
  • Contact us
  • Log in to HL Account

US election 2020 polls: who is on track to win - Trump or Biden?

So how are they each faring as the clock ticks down to the 3 November vote?

Article originally published by The Week. Hargreaves Lansdown is not responsible for its content or accuracy and may not share the author's views. News and research are not personal recommendations to deal. All investments can fall in value so you could get back less than you invest.

The Democrat leads across the board in nationwide polls but new swing states could tip the balance

As CNN has noted, President Donald Trump’s response to the virus has “upended Republican plans for how to run against Democrats”, while Democratic contender Joe Biden is “limited to remote television interviews and Zoom calls with donors”.

So how are they each faring as the clock ticks down to the 3 November vote?

Who is ahead in the polls?

Latest polling shows that both a “Biden landslide” or a “narrow Trump win” are possible, according to New York Magazine, which reports that the former vice-president to Barack Obama is ahead by 6.8% in polls by FiveThirtyEight and by 6.5% at RealClearPolitics.

“Biden has led Trump in national polls for well over a year now, and no, Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump was never that consistent,” the mag adds.

But elections are rarely clear-cut, and particularly not in the age of Trump. Despite his hefty polling leads, Biden is by no means home and dry, according to influential pollster Helmut Norpoth.

The political science professor - who has correctly predicted five out of six elections since 1996 - says his Primary Model projects that the incumbent has a 91% chance of winning the upcoming vote.

And according to Norpoth, “not only will the president be re-elected, but he will expand his margin in the electoral college from 304 electoral votes in 2016 to 362 in 2020”, reports The Independent.

Bookmakers odds

The bookies are backing Biden to win the White House, with average best odds of 5/6. Trump lags behind with best odds of 11/10. However, the range of odds suggests a close race:

 
  Donald Trump Joe Biden
Bet 365 1/1 5/6
Sky Bet 1/1 4/5
PaddyPower 11/10 4/5
William Hill 1/1 5/6
Betvictor 11/10 8/11
Betfred 1/1 5/6
betfair  11/10 4/5

Who is winning the swing states?

Under the US presidential voting system, each state is assigned a number of electoral college votes that go to the statewide winner regardless of the margin of victory. 

This means “a handful of swing states will probably decide the election and be targeted heavily by campaigners”, says The Guardian. Historically, the most important battles have been fought in Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

In these key states, Biden looks to be edging out his rival, with a polling lead in all except for Iowa and Ohio. The Democrat is ahead by margins as large as 7.8% - while Trump’s lead is just 1% in Iowa and 1.3% in Ohio, the newspaper reports.

But US politics is nothing if not topsy-turvy at the moment, and 2020 is seeing parts of the country that have never been contentious battlegrounds before now turning into swing states.

Arizona is among these new swing states, according to CBS News’ Battleground Tracker, despite Republicans having won there in all but one election since 1952. 

And Trump’s polling performance in Minnesota “is the closest a Republican has come to winning there since 1984”, when Ronald Reagan narrowly lost to Walter Mondale by 0.18%, adds Al Jazeera. A Republican last claimed victory in Minnesota in 1972.

Perhaps most notably, polling appears to suggest that the race in Texas - an ultra-safe Republican state since the 1970s that offers a hefty 38 electoral votes - will be extremely close.

FiveThirtyEight polling shows that Trump’s lead is currently around 0.8%. But at times during the campaign, Biden has led polls in the state - an unprecedented occurrence for a Democrat.

Can the election be postponed?

The 59th quadrennial presidential election is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3 November. 

But amid the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some commentators have suggested that the vote could be postponed. 

This outcome would require unprecedented level of cooperation across both sides of the aisle, however, as Trump cannot cancel or postpone the election by executive order.

The US held midterm elections in 1918 as the US battled the Spanish flu pandemic, which killed 675,000 people nationwide – and a cancellation this year is also unlikely to be on the cards.  

Will we know the result on the night?

Americans are not expected to find out who has won on election night, in part owing to the struggle to “get to grips with a restructured voting system more heavily reliant on mail-in voting in light of the coronavirus pandemic”, The Independent says.

“Many fear that underprepared states may become overwhelmed with ballots and counts could take days to complete,” the paper adds. 

That warning has been echoed by election lawyer Marc Elias, who told NBC News that “people should expect that in November there are going to be absentee ballots and mail ballots that are counted well into the evening and in the days that follow”.

Similar delays have occurred in previous elections. In the 2000 contest between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore, votes were so tight in Florida that a recount was initiated by the state, and the legal ramifications of the battle eventually prompted the Supreme Court to get involved. 

A full 34 days passed before Gore conceded, handing Bush the White House.

What if Trump refuses to leave the White House?

Speculation is rife that Trump may refuse to step down should he lose in November, with the president failing to give a straight answer over whether he will accept the result of the vote.

Speaking to Fox News in July, Trump said: “No. I have to see. Look you - I have to see. No, I'm not going to just say ‘yes’. I'm not going to say ‘no’. And I didn’t last time, either.”

This article was from The Week and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

Article originally published by The Week. Hargreaves Lansdown is not responsible for its content or accuracy and may not share the author's views. News and research are not personal recommendations to deal. All investments can fall in value so you could get back less than you invest.

Free news email alerts

  • Daily and weekly news
  • Major Publishers
Register