Understandably, people focus on the margins in the trial heats and lately they’ve been very good for Joe Biden, averaging over an 8 point lead in recent polls. But that actually undersells how well Biden has been doing. Because the absolute level at which he’s been polling support is a very, very good sign. Put simply, he’s hitting 50 percent or higher consistently and that gives him a dominant position in the race.
We can see this in the RCP running average of Biden’s support, 50.2 vs. 41.7 for Trump.
And we can see it in the the soon-to-be-published and generally more reliable 538 running average, 50.2 for Biden vs. 42.1 for Trump.
Harry Enten explains why this is so important:
“Most times when we look at polling we talk about margins. For example, former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by a 7 point margin in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out on Sunday. What that can miss, however, is that Biden’s close to 50% (49%), while Trump isn’t anywhere close (42%) in the poll.
Indeed, if you look at the average of live interview polls released since last Sunday, Biden manages to eclipse 50% (51%). That is, he has a majority for now. This is a key milestone that shouldn’t be undersold.
As I’ve noted in the past, Trump’s comeback in 2016 was made considerably easier by the fact that Democrat Hillary Clinton wasn’t polling close to 50%. The average live interview poll taken in June 2016 (when Libertarian Gary Johnson was included) had Clinton at a mere 42%. Not a single one of those polls had her even touching 50%. In fact, she never got close in the average of polls during the rest of the campaign.
Biden, meanwhile, reached at least 50% in three live interview polls this past week (ABC News/Washington Post, Monmouth University and NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College).
When Trump closed the gap in the waning days of the 2016 campaign, he had to convince very few Clinton supporters to vote for him. Trump merely had to pick up support from those who were undecided or backing a third party candidate.
Right now, Trump’s road will be difficult if not next to impossible to win if he doesn’t take back voters who are already with Biden.”