With so much happening in the country right now, you’d be excused for forgetting there is a high-stakes presidential contest going on between Joe Biden and the man who is in full bellow in the White House at present. But those of us doomed to stare at polls are here to tell you that for whatever reason in this hyperpolarized campaign year, Biden is beginning to open up a significant lead in trial heats.
When I did a six-months-out analysis in early May, Biden’s lead in the RealClearPolitics polling averages was 5.3 percent. As of this morning, it was up to 8.0 percent, higher than at any point since last December. And his own polling number is 49.9 percent, on the brink of a popular vote majority. If survey quality matters to you, new polls from two A-plus pollsters (per FiveThirtyEight) put Biden’s lead at 52/41 (Monmouth) and 53/43 (ABC–WaPo).
By comparison with other recent Democratic presidential candidates, Biden is doing pretty well at this point in the cycle:
Trump’s job-approval average at RCP (43.5 percent) is also at its lowest level since December of last year. And even Trump’s job-approval rating for handling the economy — his public opinion redoubt — is finally sagging a bit. At ABC–WaPo, it has dropped from 58 percent in January, to 57 percent in March, to 54 percent now.
In battleground state polling, Biden’s ahead of Trump in the RCP averages for Arizona (47/44), Florida (48/45), Michigan (47/42), North Carolina (46.2/46.0), Pennsylvania (48/44), and Wisconsin (46/44). These are not big leads, but since Trump took all six of these states, which collectively award 101 electoral votes, in 2016, it’s an indication of the broad front on which the president is on the defensive.
There’s a long way to go until November, with the possibility of change as obvious as everything that’s been turned upside down since March. But Donald Trump is not in good shape for an incumbent whose country is experiencing a deadly pandemic, an economic collapse, and chaos in the streets. And Joe Biden’s not doing badly for a man whose candidacy looked completely dead after a fifth place finish in New Hampshire less than four months ago.