Two battleground state polls in Pennsylvania and Minnesota released Wednesday held good news for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who led Donald Trump by nine points in both polls.
The Pennsylvania survey from NBC News/Marist showed Biden besting Trump among likely voters, 53%-44%, with 2% undecided. Trump has lost significant ground since 2016 among white voters, who make up about 80% of the state's electorate. After Trump won whites by 16 points in 2016, the new poll showed Biden and Trump now splitting the group evenly at 49%.
While Trump won white voters without a college degree by 32 points in 2016, the survey found Trump winning the group by 22 points now—a 10-point slide. But Trump's biggest losses were among white voters with a college degree, who split evenly between Trump and Hillary Clinton at 48% each in 2016. Biden now leads that demographic by 25 points, 61% to 36%, according to the NBC/Marist survey.
The Minnesota poll by SurveyUSA proved equally as promising for Biden, who led Trump in the poll among likely voters 49%-40%, with 7% undecided. White voters accounted for 87% of the state's electorate in 2016 and Trump won the group by 7 points, 50%-43%. But the new survey showed Biden now holding a 5-point edge among white voters, 48%-45%.
Nationally, a Reuters/Ipsos poll put Biden up by 12 points with likely voters, 52%-40% with 5% undecided. The interesting nugget in that poll was Biden and Trump running dead even at 45% on who would do best at handling the economy. The economy has typically been Trump's singular bright spot in polling, but the Reuters poll was the second national survey within a week to find Biden performing as well, or nearly as well, as Trump. A CBS tracking poll released Sunday also showed Biden nearly erasing Trump's advantage on the economy, with 44% preferring Biden on the issue to Trump's 45%. That poll also put Biden up by double digits nationally among likely voters, 52%-42%.
Interestingly, the battleground state polls diverged on the question of who would best handle the economy. NBC's Pennsylvania poll showed Trump with a 10-point advantage over Biden while SurveyUSA's Minnesota poll gave Biden a 2-point edge, 45%-43%.
Taken together, these latest polls raise the question of whether Trump is starting to lose his edge on the economy, a matter that voters previously seem to have viewed as completely separate from their overwhelming preference for Biden on the coronavirus. But the economy and the pandemic are, in fact, entirely related. Our current economic recession and staggering job losses have all been exacerbated exponentially by Trump's unmitigated failure to contain the spread of the pandemic. Still, voters haven't appeared to see a connection between the two. That could change and should change with the right messaging from the Biden campaign. Indeed, Biden’s campaign stop in Michigan Wednesday was almost entirely devoted to highlighting Trump's economic failures and broken promises.
“He’s on track to be the first president since Herbert Hoover in the Great Depression to see the number of jobs in our economy go down, not up while being president,” Biden said of Trump's disastrous pandemic response. “Our economy is down 4.7 million jobs since he took office.”
One final polling note: Biden's favorable ratings were above water in both statewide surveys (by 1 point in Minnesota and 4 points in Pennsylvania) whereas Trump's were well underwater in both polls.
Trump's favorable ratings
That suggests the Democratic National Convention's effort to reintroduce Biden in a more positive light stuck since his favorable ratings were typically underwater pre-convention. Meanwhile, no one beyond Trump's cultists bought into the RNC's warm-and-fuzzy portrayal of Trump—he’s simply too transparently awful.