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A looming landslide? Biden expands lead to nine states Trump won in 2016

October 2, 2020, 4:11 PM UTC

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Donald Trump went into election night trailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He’d go on to win those three states by less than 1%—and the presidency.

But this go around the President would need a much bigger upset: Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads Trump in nine states the President won in 2016, according to RealClearPolitics poll averages.

If Biden were to win every state carried by Hillary Clinton along with the nine Trump states in which he’s currently leading (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), he would walk away with at least 368 electoral votes. A win requires only 270 electoral votes.

Most of these polling averages are from polls conducted prior to the first presidential debate on Tuesday, and these polls predate the announcement of Trump’s positive COVID-19 test.

In recent weeks, Biden’s national average polling lead (7.2 percentage points) has held steady, and his battleground polling has strengthened: Two weeks ago, Biden led in just six states the President won four years ago.

The reason for the state-level uptick? Some political analysts are pointing to the fact that Biden has upped his advertising spending in key battleground states. The Biden campaign spent $153 million on TV and radio ads in September alone, compared with the $57 million spent by the Trump campaign.

Most scenarios that give Trump a second term involve him winning at least seven of the battleground states in which Biden currently leads: Arizona (+3 points), Florida (+1.1 points), Georgia (+0.3 points), Iowa (+0.5 points), Michigan (+5.2 points), North Carolina (+0.8 points), and Ohio (+3.3 points). If he wins those, Trump can likely afford to lose swing states like Pennsylvania (+5.7 points) and Wisconsin (+5.5 points), where Biden is currently leading. If Trump wins either of the latter states, he can afford to lose Michigan.

As of Friday, FiveThirtyEight forecast the odds of Biden winning at 80%, while The Economist forecast the Democratic nominee having a 89% chance of winning the electoral college. In the coming days, we’ll begin to get the state-level post-debate polls.