Biden Leads Trump by 6 Points in Florida amid Coronavirus Increase: Poll

A new poll from 7News Miami and Emerson College shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden six points ahead of President Donald Trump in Florida, a state that is central to the incumbent's hopes for a second term in office.

The poll put Biden at 51 percent among respondents with the president at 45 percent. The poll's margin of error was 3.3 percent.

Florida is always an important bellwether state, indicating which way the election is heading. For Republicans, the state has often been key to victory; in two of the GOP's last three election wins, the party could not have prevailed without taking the Sunshine State.

Both the Trump and Biden campaigns have lavished attention and funds on Florida, hoping to secure its 29 electoral college votes. According to the 7News/Emerson College poll, Biden is edging out Trump on the eve of the most charged election in modern history.

"Florida is a key state for either candidate," said Spencer Kimball, the director of Emerson College Polling. "We started seeing Biden pick up his lead in March, in June, and been able to hold it," he added, "and then this last week it looks like he's been able to catch maybe a little momentum down in Florida."

The poll shows that the majority of Florida respondents—51 percent—do not approve of Trump's performance as the state battles the coronavirus pandemic, a crisis Trump has been widely accused of bungling.

Florida has reported a total of 807,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began at the start of this year, registering almost 17,000 deaths. The state recorded 4,865 new cases Sunday with another 28 deaths.

The rate of new infections has been slowing since September, but in recent weeks has been accelerating as the rest of the country braces for a second wave. On Friday, the state recorded 5,592 new cases—the highest daily total since August 15.

Some reports have suggested Florida's older voters—key to which way the state swings—have been turned off Trump by his lacklustre response to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden told voters at a community centre for seniors in southern Florida last month that the president views older people as expendable."

The 7News/Emerson College poll appeared to support that assertion. Younger voters and those above 65 are pulling for Biden, while those aged 45 to 64 are still mostly backing the president.

The pandemic has had a significant effect on the race, Kimball said. "We saw President Trump holding pretty steady in Florida with his numbers from 2016, but as this pandemic has increased, particularly over June and July, we started to watch those numbers drop."

But for all the good news for the Biden camp, the poll showed a concerning weakness in the southern part of the state, Kimball said.

"The area that I think is most concerning for Biden would be down in South Florida—Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach counties—because the vote there is a little bit lighter in the early vote, and those are going to be an area where Biden needs to win by literally hundreds of thousands of votes."

Pollsters and experts are being cautious about grand predictions, given the effects of the pandemic, a predicted high turnout, and memories of how the polls predicted a Hillary Clinton victory in 2016.

"Nothing is sure in politics, and even in our poll results, there's still room within the margin of error to see a Trump one, maybe a 1-and-a-half-point victory in Florida," Kimball said.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Florida, 2020 election
President Donald Trump watches a video of his opponent former Vice President Joe Biden during a "Make America Great Again" rally at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Opa Locka, Florida on November 2, 2020. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images/Getty