In 2016, did Clinton have a bigger lead in the Battleground states than Biden has today?

October 8, 2020

Watching Fox News this morning (yes, I watch both CNN and Fox News, that’s why I’m fair and balanced!) they had a report from the Hoover Institution which compared an online-survey of Battleground states conducted by YouGov/Economist to actual 2016 Battleground votes on the same dates.

To summarize, they found that when you compare the national votes to the Battleground states they concluded that “Overall, in the battleground states Trump has cut his disadvantage of 7-plus points (national vote) to about 4 percent, which makes these states still up for grabs.”

Although their methodology is sound, it does rely on an outside survey and the estimate of turnout of third party candidates vote which they admit is far fewer in the Battleground states.

It seems to me the easiest way to determine where the two candidates stand now as compared to 2016 is to compare Trump and Clinton’s current Battleground polls on this date, to the October 8, 2016 Trump/Biden Battleground polls. This will tell us if Biden is outperforming or underperforming Hillary Clinton at this exact date some 26 days until the election.

Fortunately, Real Clear Politics has already done the hard work for me by keeping data on the 2016 Battleground states. In Table 1 below, you can see how similar 2016 and 2020 are in respect to both the Democrat’s average lead over Trump at this exact date.

Oct. 8, 2016Oct. 8, 2020Difference
Clinton AVGBiden AVG
Table 1 : Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona

In 2016 on October 8, 2016, Hillary had an average percent lead from all six Battleground states of 5.1%. Today, Joe Biden has an average poll lead of 4.6% in the same six states, a difference of only 0.5%.

In other words, Joe Biden is almost exactly were Hilary was in 2016. On election day, Donald Trump won all six if these states by a total average of only 1.1%.

So if you are a Trump supporter, you can see his chances of staying in the White House are exactly like they were in 2016 when he collected 101 electoral votes in these six states.

If you are a Biden supporter, start saying a novena to the Patron Saint of Polling and hope this time they are accurate. Be safe…

By Jim Kane

Jim Kane is a pollster and media advisor, and was for fifteen years an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. Kane is founder of the polling firm USAPoll and served as the Director of the Florida Voter Poll. His political clients have included both Republican and Democratic candidates, including the Republican Party of Florida, and both the Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel newspapers. At the University of Florida, Professor Kane taught graduate level courses in political science on Survey Research, Lobbying and Special Interest Groups in America, Political Campaigning, and Political Behavior. In addition to his professional and academic career, Jim Kane has been actively involved in local and state policy decisions. He was elected to the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation Board (1978-1982) and the Port Everglades Authority (1988-1994). Kane also served as an appointed member of the Broward County Planning Council (1995-2003), Broward County Management Review Committee (Chair, 1990-1991), Broward County Consumer Protection Board (1976-1982), and the Broward County School Board Consultants Review Committee (1986-1990).

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