A Detroit Free Press article on Friday bore the headline: “With Biden gaining in the polls, Michigan’s status as battleground state up in the air.”
The Free Press went on to note that a recent EPIC-MRA poll found Biden up by 12 points and the Real Clear Politics average in the state put Biden at a 7-point advantage—a wider gap than in any other battleground state.
FiveThirtyEight did an update on battleground states with at least three polls conducted since May 1 and similarly concluded “the most notable takeaway here is Biden’s sizable lead in Michigan and Wisconsin.”
Here’s the site’s breakdown of all those states, with some getting more polling attention than others. But Wisconsin and Michigan—at five and eight polls respectively—both have a decent amount of polling informing the contest.
Remember, Trump carried both Wisconsin and Michigan by less than 1 point in 2016. And of course, caution is always necessary since we’re still about a handful of months away from Election Day and who knows what kind of surprises the remaining months could hold. FiveThirtyEight also notes that the polling in each state varies quite a bit, with Michigan polls ranging from Biden +2 to +15 and Wisconsin polls showing everything from a tie to Biden +9. But Biden’s strength in both states is still noteworthy given that conventional wisdom suggested they would both be more tightly contested throughout the race.
The other two states that are notable were both states where Trump was supposed to have a significant advantage: Ohio and Iowa. Likely for that very reason, both states were the subject of just two polls since May 1 (Civiqs conducted one of the Iowa polls). In 2016, Trump won both states by very comfortable margins: 8 points in Ohio and more than 9 points in Iowa. Yet he’s only leading Biden in Ohio by an average margin of +0.4 and in Iowa by +0.5.
Here’s the full list of the data crunched by FiveThirtyEight, with the polling averages in North Carolina at Biden +0.5 and Florida at Biden +2.5 also being noteworthy.
As FiveThirtyEight notes, all of the original battleground states except for Michigan have Republican-leaning national averages, which is why Trump has a built-in advantage in the Electoral College. “Should Biden continue to hold a sizable lead, the chances of an Electoral College-popular vote split will probably be low. But if the polls get closer, the odds will increase because the eventual tipping point state is almost certainly among these eight states,” writes Geoffrey Skelley.
But if you want to be one of these two candidates right now, Biden’s the person to be. By any metric, Biden is well-positioned in most of the battleground states—so much so, that some are wondering if the original battleground assumptions hold.