Two of the most accurate national pollsters of the 2016 presidential election show movement towards President Donald Trump over the weekend that puts the race within the margin of error.
Throughout last week, the IBD/TIPP tracking poll had former Vice President Joe Biden up consistently in the range of five to six points. On Monday, his lead shrunk to just 3.2 points, exactly within the poll’s 3.2 point margin of error.
“The latest Trump vs. Biden poll shows a much tighter race between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump with just one day to go,” the pollster reports. “The IBD/TIPP presidential poll suggests Trump has widened his advantage among rural voters, nosed ahead among independents, and narrowed the gap among black and Hispanic voters.”
“Today’s Trump vs. Biden poll update finds the Democratic challenger leading the Republican incumbent by 3.2 points, 48.8%-45.6%, in a four-way presidential poll of likely voters. Biden’s lead was 5.1 points on Sunday,” the pollster adds.
Rasmussen also showed a two-point move towards the president over the weekend. What had been a three point race on Friday, with Biden up 49 to 46 percent, is now a single point race, with Biden up 48 to 47 percent, well within the poll’s 2.5 point margin of error.
On Monday, Rasmussen also put Trump’s job approval rating at a healthy 52 percent, with a 48 percent disapproval. At this same time during his failed first term, Barack Obama sat at just 50 percent approval in this same poll.
There’s also been movement towards the president in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) poll of polls, which tracks the national average. On Friday, Biden led nationally by an average of 7.8 points — 51.3 to 43.5 percent. That lead dropped to 6.5 points over the weekend.
It was late deciders, a rush towards Trump over that final weekend, that was one factor in the president’s upset win in 2016. And late deciders can make the difference, especially in a tight race like this one.
Granted, if you look at the overall national polls, the race is not tight. Biden is over the magic 50 percent mark, and Trump is down by more than six points.
But two pollsters, the two who came the closest to nailing it in 2016, do say it’s close nationally, and that the closing momentum is with Trump.
What’s more, there is no question it’s close in the swing states that will decide the next president.
According to the RCP poll of polls, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, and Texas, are all within a point (I doubt Texas and Georgia will be that close). Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Minnesota are within three to five points.
This is still a jump ball with all kinds of factors the polls might be missing.
To begin with, there’s nothing in the early vote that tells us there’s a blue wave coming. There’s also nothing in the early vote that says Trump has this in the bag. Things kind of look like they did in 2016, and 2016 (vote-wise) was freakin’ close.
But this year Democrats put an enormous amount of emphasis on the early vote. That emphasis does not appear to be showing up in the early vote. Does this mean Democrats will vote en masse tomorrow, or does this mean their most reliable voters have already shown up and the GOP is about to swamp them tomorrow?
Mail-in ballots are rejected at a higher rate than in-person votes. If more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail (and in states like Florida they did by wide margins), the increased rejection rate will cut into their margin.
The increase in black and Hispanic support for Trump we’re seeing in the polls — if it’s real — might not be reflected in the early vote returns that look only at “Republican” and “Democrat” votes — if those voters did not switch parties.
You cannot discount enthusiasm. There’s almost none for Biden, as his rallies prove. But as I wrote earlier today, we’ve never seen anything like the enthusiasm we’re seeing for Trump. It’s literally off the charts.
Finally, about those hidden or shy voters. A lot of smart people honestly believe the polls are under-counting Trump voters even more today than in 2016 — and for a couple of reason: 1) over the last four years, Trump has been turned into evil incarnate by people who will burn down your business or get you fired if you are caught supporting Trump, and 2) Trump fans are probably more willing to lie to pollsters than ever before, just for laughs.
Keep in mind, that reputable pollsters putting good faith effort into finding those shy voters have Trump ahead in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, and barely behind in Nevada and Wisconsin.
Even without Nevada and Wisconsin, that’s enough to win Trump a second term.
We’ll know soon enough.