What the final polls say about the Trump-Biden race

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President Donald Trump is in a deeper hole heading into Election Day than he was four years ago, when he stunned Hillary Clinton and most of America.

The final polls before the election, released on Monday, continued to show Joe Biden ahead in enough swing states to win. Some of the states are close, but the polls would have to be significantly more inaccurate than they were in 2016 for Trump to prevail.

Here’s a state-by-state guide to the latest polls at the end of the election in 13 of the 14 states rated either as "Toss Ups," "Lean Republican" or "Lean Democratic" in POLITICO’s Election Forecast (minus Alaska, where there is little public polling):

Arizona (11 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average as of Monday evening: Biden +2.6
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Trump +2.4
2016 result: Trump +3.5

Befitting its toss-up status, the final live-interview poll in Arizona, an NBC News/Marist poll released Monday, showed a tied race in Arizona, 48 percent to 48 percent.

Biden does lead in the polling average, however, as other late surveys have given him the edge, including a 6-point lead in a New York Times/Siena College poll out on Sunday.

Florida (29 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +2.5
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +0.6
2016 result: Trump +1.2

Biden enters the election about 2 points stronger than Clinton was in 2016, when Trump emerged with a 1-point victory.

The final live-caller poll, from Quinnipiac University, showed Biden ahead by 5 points — though Quinnipiac overestimated Democrats in the state in the 2018 midterms.

Georgia (16 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +1
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Trump +4
2016 result: Trump +5.1

Georgia has raced away from Trump in the polls: He led by 4 points on the eve of the 2016 election and won by 5 — the rare state where Trump didn’t overperform significantly on Election Day.

He and Biden are neck-and-neck now, with the Democrat a point ahead in the FiveThirtyEight average.

Iowa (6 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Trump +1.4
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Trump +2.9
2016 result: Trump +9.4

The most promising news for Trump in the polls in the 72 hours before the election came from Iowa, where a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll showed the president ahead by 7 points.

That’s out of line with the average, which showed a closer race. But the Register’s final poll was also better for Trump than the average in 2016 — and it was right.

Michigan (16 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +8
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +4.2
2016 result: Trump +0.2

Biden’s 8-point advantage in Michigan — the state Trump won by the narrowest margin in 2016 — is nearly twice Hillary Clinton’s pre-2016 lead.

The live-interview polls in the final two weeks of the race gave Biden a lead between 7 and 12 points. They’d have to be way off for Trump to win there again.

Minnesota (10 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +9.4
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +5.8
2016 result: Clinton +1.5

Trump’s narrow loss in Minnesota was an underrated surprise from 2016. But in order to make a real challenge there this year, he’d have to overcome a bigger Biden advantage of nearly 10 points.

Nevada (6 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +4.8
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +1.8
2016 result: Clinton +2.4

Nevada was another state where Trump didn’t overperform his polls in 2016. That makes his current 5-point deficit appear more daunting.

New Hampshire (4 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +11.1
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +3.6
2016 result: Clinton +0.4

Trump’s narrow 2016 loss in New Hampshire came after entering Election Day within 4 points in the polls. He’s down by at least twice that now: Two in-state academic pollsters showed Biden ahead by 8 points last week.

North Carolina (15 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +1.9
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +0.7
2016 result: Trump +3.6

As in 2016, the polls are tight in North Carolina. There’s a slight gap between the live-interview polls — the final two, from CNN/SSRS and NBC News/Marist, showed Biden ahead by 6 points — and web surveys showing essentially a tied race.

Trump out-ran his polls there in 2016, winning the state by almost 4 points. It was an early sign the night was breaking his way in a state where the polls close early (7:30 p.m. Eastern).


Ohio (18 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Trump +0.7
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Trump +1.9
2016 result: Trump +8.1

This is the only one of the 13 states in this analysis where Trump currently leads in the polling average — even after a Quinnipiac poll out on Monday gave Biden a 4-point advantage.

Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +4.8
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +3.7
2016 result: Trump +0.7

Biden is in better shape than Clinton in the most-likely tipping-point state — but not by much. He’s ahead by around 5 points, just a little above Clinton’s nearly 4-point lead four years ago.

Trump’s only leads are in surveys by two Republican pollsters, while the other surveys show Biden ahead — and, in a key difference from 2016, at or above 50 percent. That includes two surveys on Monday: an NBC News/Marist poll showing Biden ahead, 51 percent to 46 percent, and a Monmouth University poll showing similar numbers among its various turnout models.

Texas (38 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Trump +1
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Trump +8.5
2016 result: Trump +9

Unlike some of the core battlegrounds, polling in Texas has slowed down at the end of the election. But Trump is entering with only a 1-point lead — a troubling sign after he essentially matched his polls when he won the state by 9 points in 2016.

Wisconsin (10 electoral votes):

FiveThirtyEight average: Biden +8.2
FiveThirtyEight final 2016 “polls-only” forecast: Clinton +5.3
2016 result: Trump +0.8

Of the Great Lakes battleground states Trump flipped in 2016, coronavirus-ravaged Wisconsin has been his weakest in public polling. The final New York Times/Siena College poll showed Biden ahead by 11 points — though Trump is a little closer in other surveys.

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