President Donald Trump is still behind former Vice President Joe Biden when it comes to averages, even in swing states. The large national divide has narrowed slightly, however, as candidates sprint towards election day in less than two weeks.
Some nationwide survey trackers revealed the following on Thursday morning:
The narrowing trend could be a sign of encouragement for Trump, who also stands behind Biden in terms of favoritism ratings and campaign donation numbers. With 12 days to go before the election, however, the postponement hardly suggests that the president is likely to win a popular vote.
However, the presidency is not determined by the candidate with the most votes. In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won more than 2 million votes more than Trump, but lost the election after a series of gossamer defeats in key swing states that earned the Republican a majority of the electoral college.
At this point in the race four years ago, Clinton, like Biden, had a considerable lead in national polls. She also led Trump by a smaller margin in a handful of swing states that ultimately turned out to be crucial to her defeat. RealClearPolitics reveals that Biden faces Clinton 12 days before election day.
The most recent CNBC / Change Research polls, released earlier this week, show Biden with leads in six key states, though some are closer:
Arizona: Biden 51%, Trump 45% (+6)Florida: Biden 50%, Trump 45% (+5)Michigan: Biden 51%, Trump 44% (+7)North Carolina: Biden 50%, Trump 47% (+3)Pennsylvania: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (+2)Wisconsin: Biden 52%, Trump 44% (+8)
Even if Trump catches up with Biden in the polls by Nov. 3, it could be too late. Mail-in voting numbers and early voting numbers in numerous states are already leaps and bounds from past elections. According to the US election project, more than 45 million Americans had cast their ballots by Thursday morning.
The 2016 race turned dramatically in late October when the focus was on Clinton's use of a private email server. Controversy over emails had already played a major role in the elections after news from members of the Democratic National Committee that had been stolen by Russian hackers leaked. But the public statements made by then FBI Director James Comey on the Democrats' emails, delivered just days before the 2016 elections, arguably cost her the presidency.
A number of "October Surprise" -like events have already happened in 2020, and none of them has yet materially changed the experts' views of the race.
Trump's announcement in early October that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, and his subsequent hospital stay, coincided with a pollute disruption for Biden. But the president left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after three days and has since returned to a jam-packed itinerary, an obvious rebound that some say may work in his favor.
In the past few days, the Trump campaign and its supporters have picked up another report via email – this time from Biden's son Hunter Biden. The New York Post claims the emails show Hunter Biden tried to set up a meeting between his father and a senior executive of a Ukrainian company he worked for when Joe Biden was vice president.
The report, which cites Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and former top advisor Steve Bannon as sources, was viewed with skepticism by other news outlets. But it will likely come Thursday night when Trump and Biden face each other in their second and final pre-election debate.
The event starts at 9 p.m. ET in Nashville will include some changes made after the unruly initial candidate meeting in late September. Trump and Biden in particular will have their microphones turned off at certain times to avoid shouting entangled in crosstalk and insults – as happened in the first debate.
Viewers largely withdrew on the ugly portrayal, despite polls showing that Biden had won. It is unclear whether Trump, who interrupted far more than Biden and sometimes even hit the moderator, will take a different approach on Thursday evening. He has already criticized NBC News' Kristen Welker, who is supposed to host the event in Nashville, as "unfair".
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien also shared a public letter asking the Presidential Debate Commission to focus the debate on foreign policy. But the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be a major problem.
At least 222,220 people in the US have died from Covid-19, and more than 8.33 million cases have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University.