Election Polls Aren't Tightening Like Trump Needs

Election polls have tightened only slightly as November nears, a shift not significant enough to change the grim outlook for President Donald Trump.

Following the party conventions, the race gap has narrowed somewhat nationally between Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. But the latter is holding onto a steady national lead and in most battleground states.

"There's been a little tightening, but I'm not sure if that substantially changed the look of the race," Geoffrey Skelley, elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight, told Newsweek.

"It hasn't changed the situation at large. I think one of the things that might be going on here is that in a race that has been defined by stability in the polls, people are jumping on to whatever looks like a significant change."

FiveThirtyEight's poll tracker puts Biden 7.5 points ahead, down 0.7 points from this time a month ago and 2.1 from when his lead was at 9.6 in July. More tightening is expected as election day approaches, Skelley said.

Trump's odds of winning the election according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model remain at around 25 percent, which has not significantly changed in recent weeks.

The RealClearPolitics tracker alternately shows Biden's lead slightly up compared to a month ago. It put his advantage at 7.2 points on August 11 and 7.5 on September 11. This was down from around 9 percent in July, showing some tightening.

Chris Jackson, head of public polling at Ipsos, said while he thinks there has been tightening since summer, which he said was to be expected, this is not significant. "I don't think the race has really moved substantially in the past few weeks," he told Newsweek.

"Instead I think you are seeing a little bit of a timing effect in the aggregators where the releases of specific polls that have a closer (or wider) split impact the averages.

"However, if you look at individual polls over time, there isn't any clear trendline of them narrowing from mid-July through now."

With Trump trailing in national polls, the focus has turned to the battleground states that will likely decide the election.

The president lost the popular vote in 2016 but still won the presidency through the Electoral College. Winning the key states would see him secure victory again, even if Biden gets more votes overall.

Skelley said there did appear to be a significant tightening of the race in Florida, a crucial state because of its number of electors, where FiveThirtyEight's tracker gives Biden a lead of 2.7 points. This was down from 5.5 points the month before on August 11.

In 2016, Trump won Florida by just over 100,000 votes, a 1.2 percent lead over then-rival Hillary Clinton.

A recent Marist College/NBC News poll put Trump ahead by one point, at 48 percent to 47 percent, among the 766 likely voters surveyed during the week ending September 6.

The gap, however, was well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

Other recent polling has put Biden up in several battleground states, including a recent survey showing him seven points ahead in Wisconsin.

Newsweek has contacted the Trump campaign for comment.

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally on September 10, 2020 in Freeland, Michigan. He is behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in national polling. Scott Olson/Getty Images