How Important are Arizona and Pennsylvania and How do they Compare now to 2016?

October 13, 2020

In today’s New York Times, there was an article that claimed the Trump campaign “appears to recognize that the two states (Wisconsin and Michigan) no longer represent his likeliest path to re-election.” This observation is based on the Trump campaign’s decision to reduce its television ads in these two states.

Instead, The Times reports that the Trump campaign has decided to go for the trifecta of Arizona, Pennsylvania and, of course, Florida. These three states would contribute 60 electoral votes and with North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, would put the campaign very close to victory.

Considering that Trump is currently behind Biden in both Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined 13 points, this seems like a wise decision. I have posted on his chances in Florida and I consider this state still in play. But what about Arizona and Pennsylvania?

In Tables 1 and 2 below, I show what the election looked like in the same time period in both 2016 and 2020 in Arizona.

10/6 – 10/81087 LV2.94448
9/29 – 10/7633 LV4.34846
10/2 – 10/4296 LV5145
10/1 – 10/3655 LV4.24941
9/26 – 9/30500 LV4.45046
9/25 – 9/28500 LV4.34747
10/6 – 10/91190 LV3.35246
10/6 – 10/7716 LV3.65242
10/2 – 10/4676 LV5143
9/30 – 10/3600 LV44839
9/20 – 9/221015 LV34647
9/19 – 9/22799 LV4.35244

As it stands today (Table 2), Biden on average is leading Trump in Arizona by 6.7%. At the same point in 2016, Clinton was leading Trump by 2.7%, a four percent difference in Biden’s favor.

Moving to Pennsylvania, we find that in 2016 Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump by 8 points in the polls. When the last ballot was counted, Donald Trump won the state by 0.7%.

10/7 – 10/114839
10/4 – 10/94440
10/5 – 10/74840
10/3 – 10/64937
9/28 – 10/24738
9/30 – 10/35040
9/27 – 10/24541

In Table 4 below, you will find that according to the average of polls, during the same period, Biden leads Trump by 7 points.

10/10 – 10/124745
10/6 – 10/115144
10/4 – 10/55045
10/2 – 10/45046
10/1 – 10/55441
9/30 – 10/45443
9/30 – 10/25144

In other words, the race at this point is almost the same as it was in 2016. Now if you are a Trump supporter don’t go out and celebrate just yet. None of this suggests that the polls this time are as wrong as they were in 2016.

Do I agree with the Trump campaign for repositioning from Michigan and Wisconsin to Arizona and Pennsylvania? Focusing on Arizona is a good move and it should have been a priority from the beginning. They took it for granted.

The demographics in Arizona reflect the typical Trump voter: 78% white, 4% black and a large population of gun owners and now it may very well may go Democratic.

Pennsylvania at this point is a longshot but their choices are limited with just 21 days left and a limited budget.

Time is running out for Donald Trump and he is running out of money. Beginning next week, I can start making predictions on these battleground states where the winner will be decided. Stay tuned and stay 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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