A series of new polls released by Fox News on Wednesday indicate the presidential race has shifted in recent days, with President Donald Trump leading in Ohio and a tight race forming in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The polls, which were conducted between October 17 and October 20, found Trump was running close to former Vice President Joe Biden. The results seem to indicate the 2020 race is closer than many political observers believe, especially less than two weeks out from Election Day.
In Ohio, for instance, Trump leads the Democrat nominee among likely voters by a margin of three percentage points, 48 percent to 45 percent. While the margin is small, it bodes well for Trump, who won the Buckeye State in 2016 on his way to the White House. The significance is even larger when taken in the context that no presidential candidate has won the general election without carrying Ohio since 1964.
Another Fox poll from Pennsylvania shows the race similarly tight, but with Biden holding a narrow five percentage point advantage. The survey found the former vice president leading Trump, 50 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters. Although the results are good for the Democrat nominee, there is some indication Biden’s support has slipped. In September, the same poll conducted by Fox had the former vice president leading the incumbent, 51 percent to 44 percent.
Similarly, a Fox poll released on Wednesday shows a close race in Wisconsin. The poll also showed Biden leading Trump by five percentage points, 49 percent to 44 percent–a three-point drop from when Fox last surveyed the state at the end of August.
Even though the polls show Biden leading, there is some indication the former vice president’s base of support is weak. In all three states, Republicans have narrowed the Democrats’ voter registration advantage in the last three years.
Much of the GOP’s success both in voter registration and electorally seems to be coming at the expense of Democrats, as exhibited in Pennsylvania. In 2016, Democrats accounted for 49 percent of the Keystone State’s electorate. Today, they only account for 47 percent. The defections have been most noticeable in western and northeastern Pennsylvania, where Trump’s populist appeal appears to be fomenting a political realignment.
Although a New York City real estate developer by trade, the president has fashioned himself over the past four years as a champion of the working man. Trump’s populist stands on immigration and jobs, coupled with strong support for the Second Amendment, have been met with tremendous approval by blue-collar and working-class voters, not only in Pennsylvania, but across much of the country as a whole.
In 2016, voters without a college degree backed Trump over Clinton by a margin of 52 percent to 44 percent. The split was even more decisive among non-college-educated whites, who broke for Trump by the largest margin since 1980—67 percent to 28 percent. Even though their numbers are decreasing nationally, non-college-educated white voters remain a sizable portion of the electorate throughout Pennsylvania, as well as in states like Ohio and Wisconsin.
Similarly, Trump’s championing of American manufacturing, as well as his opposition to free trade, struck a chord with not only blue-collar workers, but with union members as well. In 2016, Trump did better among union members than any Republican since Ronald Reagan, losing the demographic to Clinton by only eight points.
Since entering the White House, Trump’s appeal to union members appears to have not diminished. Internal polling from North America’s Building Trades Unions, publicized by Politico in September, found Trump behind former Vice President Joe Biden by one percentage point (47 percent to 48 percent) among the union’s members in six key swing states.