Five Weeks Out

Joe Biden's chances remain extraordinarily good.

I’ve been using RealClearPolitics polling data and especially their poll aggregator since the earliest days of the site, going back to the 2004 election cycle. It’s slightly skewed toward Republicans in its selection of polls and in some ways not as sophisticated as Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight but it’s easier for non-statsheads to understand and pretty reliable over time.

They haven’t added any new polls in a couple of days and, obviously, this doesn’t account for the impacts, if any, of last night’s debate. Still, it’s a solid snapshot of where we were five weeks from the ostensible Election Day.*

Here’s the average of all their polls trending over the entire time they’ve been polling Biden vs. Trump:

The numbers have fluctuated with events but the trend is clear: Biden has had a significant lead from the beginning and never given it up. He’s 6.1 points up as of a couple days ago.

Here’s their Electoral College map, based on state-by-state polling:

As noted many times, that Texas and Georgia are “toss-ups” is a horrible sign for Trump’s re-election chances. And Biden only needs to pick up 44 electors to get to the magical 270 majority; there are an inordinate number of ways for him to do that. Trump needs 145 of 187—essentially an inside straight.

Here are their “top battleground states” polls:

Literally all of them are leaning toward Biden at the moment, some of them rather strongly.

Which produces this Electoral Map including leaners:

Even if he runs the table—which is unlikely—353 electors is fewer than Barack Obama won in 2008 or Bill Clinton won in either 1992 or 1996. But still a pretty solid margin in a hyper-polarized political culture.


*For good and ill, the increasing trends toward mail-in voting and no-questions early voting means we no longer have an election in the sense most of us have long conceived of it. Indeed, thousands if not millions of people had already voted by the time of the first debate.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    I like your map!

    Cook has Wis, AZ, MI and PA leaning Dem while it has TX leaning R, that has Biden at 290 EV. But, as you note RCP does have an R bias. But Cook, RCP, 538 and Sabato all show Biden in the catbird seat. It is tough to see a path to a Trump win short of cheating or a coup.

  2. Kathy says:

    RCP also lets you look at polls from 2016 (it’s kind of complicated finding that function, here’s one). It’s amazing what states Clinton lost in which the polls had her narrowly ahead.

    It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2016. A Trump victory is inconceivable, yet it still may happen.

    Actually I feel like grabbing America collectively by their shirt and screaming “WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU!”

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump needs 145 EV’s he doesn’t have. Give him TX, FL, GA and NC, and he’s still short 24.

    Biden needs 44. I disagree with the status of Pennsylvania and Michigan, I think we have those 36 EV’s, leaving Joe needing just 8 votes. WI does it. AZ does it. NC does it.

  4. Teve says:


    Trump victory is inconceivable, yet it still may happen.

    Actually I feel like grabbing America collectively by their shirt and screaming “WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU!”

    400 years of racism fucked us up.

  5. Teve says:

    From some link in another thread:

    What Joe Biden wants to do
    Die Welt said the debate had revealed very little about policy. “Most importantly, it showed that America has a president whose behaviour stands out and who lacks self-control – but that’s not exactly news,” it wrote.
    Mr Biden in contrast was not an exciting candidate but “at least someone with common sense and a stable personality” who would “bring something like normalcy back to the White House”.

    “Never had American politics sunk so low,” La Repubblica’s US correspondent wrote, describing the debate as “Chaotic, rowdy, and based on mutual contempt”.
    Il Corriere della Sera meanwhile said President Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy was “a message for Black America”.

    I’ve watched the demographic trends for 25 years. I think there’ll be a smile on my face when I die.

  6. EddieInCA says:

    What I’ve been watching is the R leaning pollsters. Recently, Rasmussen trend for Trump is down. Same with Trafalgar. Rasmussen has a national poll out today showing Biden by 8. If that’s accurate, then it’s an 11 point Biden lead, due to the 3+ points R bias Rassmussen has had historically.

    Wait to see Trafalgar’s polls next week in Swing States. If they show Biden ahead in NC, GA, or IA or OH, Trump could be headed for a historical blow out.

  7. Teve says:

    It’s funny, if you look through the tax returns, the only time Trump actually made any money was The Apprentice, pretending he was a great business guy who made a buncha money, when he was failing, as usual.

  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Interesting. Not surprising, but still interesting.

  9. JohnSF says:

    Pennsylvania: Biden +5.7
    IMHO that’s the critical figure; a lead in Pennsylvania more than the margin of error.

  10. JohnSF says:

    Why I think PA poll is crucial:
    Assume Biden can take all the states Hillary Clinton won.
    That make Pennsylvania the largest “2016 very marginal” prize if you exclude Florida.
    (I’m inclined to do so because reading a bit from Florida reporters indicates that regardless of polls, the Republicans are dug in deep there.)
    Win Pennsylvania and Biden just needs another two of the 2016 Trump-won marginals for victory (from Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina).

    “Well, that’s still a bit iffy…” you could reply.
    Yes, true, by no means in the bag.
    But Team Biden can concentrate funds and attention on PA+4; whereas Trump needs to fight to hold on in other states as well (Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, even Arkansas and Texas) and with a campaign team that looks a mess.

  11. Michael Cain says:

    Re the post title… depending on the order in which the county recorder delivers the ballots to the big USPS sorting center, we should have our ballots in our hands three weeks from today or tomorrow. We will fill them out within a couple of days of that and deposit them in the dropbox. >90% of ballots cast in the West will be delivered by mail this year, and Colorado’s vote by mail dates are not particularly early. If there’s going to be an “October surprise”, and it’s supposed to affect things in the western states, they need to get to it during the first half of the month.

    Any surprises are unlikely to be aimed at the western states, though. AZ is the only one that’s really in play. I wonder why the pundits keep putting NV in the toss-up category after 2018. The closeness of the 2016 presidential election is almost immaterial. Like Colorado there’s been large population growth since then and those new voters skew heavily Democratic.

  12. RaflW says:

    I wouldn’t count out Iowa for Biden, either. It’ll be quite tight one way or the other, as polling has shown. Trump did not win the ag battle with China, and the response to the derecho was very slow and weak. He was in the state for 20 minutes in what was functionally a fly-by en route one of his rally fixes in AZ, and people there saw it.

  13. inhumans99 says:

    With today’s news from the White House I continue to be cautiously optimistic that Biden has a better than average shot at being our next President.