Running Out of Time

One week out from the election, we’re seeing some similar trends— and key differences— from 2016.

Vice President Joe Biden is still leading based on national polling averages, putting him eight points ahead of the president. But he’s down two points compared to a week ago.  

While we saw similar trends in 2016 with Clinton’s lead narrowing to five points 15 days before the election, there are notable differences in 2020

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a net negative favorability rating at this stage in the election in 2016, while Biden is net positive. With 2016 a notable outlier, the candidate with the strongest net favorability rating in the late stages of an election year has won every race since 1980.
  • Third party votes cost Clinton key swing states in 2016, but there are no notable third party candidates in the 2020 race. Those who voted third party in 2016 are breaking for Biden over President Trump
  • There were roughly twice as many undecided voters at this stage in 2016, and most of those voters ended up casting their ballots for Trump. 

And as the country enters a third coronavirus wave, breaking records last week for the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a day, approval ratings for President Trump’s handling of the virus hit an all-time low

President Trump’s support from white women is down 15 points from 2016 exit polls, and recent polling shows women are behind the uptick in disapproval of Trump’s coronavirus response.  

Biden is projected to win the Electoral College if current state polling holds on Election Day, but several state races are close toss ups. A number of them–like Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio–recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases last week since the start of the pandemic.