No need to break these polls down, at least not much, just given their sourcing. Normally, Donald Trump does worse in both the Washington Post/ABC and Fox polling series than in others, although not necessarily by wide margins. Given that, the latest results from the WaPo/ABC battleground-state polling should have the White House smiling — and Democrats worried:
President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are locked in close races in Florida and Arizona, according to a pair of Washington Post-ABC News polls in two Sun Belt battlegrounds the president won in 2016 that are crucial to his hopes for reelection in November.
In Florida, likely voters split 51 percent for Trump to 47 percent for Biden, while registered voters split 47 percent for Trump to 48 percent for Biden. In Arizona, Trump’s margin is even smaller at 49 percent to Biden’s 48 percent among likely voters. Among Arizona’s registered voters, Trump is at 47 percent and Biden at 49 percent. All these differences are within the polls’ margins of sampling error.
The findings in the two surveys are better for the president than other polls conducted in the two states recently by other organizations. The Post’s average of polls this month shows Biden with a two-point advantage in Florida and a six-point margin in Arizona.
The Post’s averaging is a skosh off from RCP’s, although the latter also shows Biden leading in every state. Biden has a 1.5-point edge in Florida and a 4.1-point edge in Arizona in RCP’s aggregation, but Trump has been narrowing things up since mid-summer, too. The new result from WaPo/ABC is only the second poll from Florida this month to show Trump with any kind of lead (Trafalgar did at the beginning of the month).
Arizona has looked even slightly more pessimistic among pollsters. The one-point edge from WaPo/ABC today is the first media poll to show Trump ahead since May, shortly after Biden wrapped up the nomination. However, an even bigger bellwether there might be the Senate race. The WaPo/ABC poll puts Martha McSally within a point of Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, 48/49, among likely voters, which tends to support the idea of a Trump rebound in the state. At least in this survey, anyway.
What’s the reason for the sudden sunny optimism in this poll series? The Washington Post says it’s the economy, stupid:
Overall, the surveys illustrate that the national economy, despite its weakened state, remains Trump’s strongest issue, and it is helping him overcome voters’ disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Well maybe, but the demos released by the Post also indicate some other issues might be in play. For instance, Trump now gets into double digits among black voters in Florida — 11%, which if that turned out to be a national score would prove disastrous for Joe Biden. Trump is also leading among voters under 50 and above 64, and only trails Biden among Hispanics by 13 points, 39/52.
The Arizona demos are a bit less clear. The gap among Hispanics is wider at 34/61, just slightly better than Trump’s performance against Hillary Clinton four years ago (31/61). Biden wins big among voters under 50, but Trump carries the other age demos by double-digit margins. The gender gap in both states is large, but Trump does have an opportunity to address that on Saturday when he announces his Supreme Court appointment, too.
Finally, though, there’s another factor in play in these and other battleground states:
As in many polls, more Trump supporters than Biden supporters express enthusiasm for their vote. About 2 in 3 Trump supporters in both states say they are “very enthusiastic” about their backing of the president. That compares with 59 percent of Biden supporters in Florida and 45 percent of his supporters in Arizona who express that same kind of enthusiasm in their vote for Biden.
That has the potential to be a huge problem when it comes to actually turning out the vote. That kind of enthusiasm gap could get mitigated with a superior ground game, but in this case the only side with a ground game is Team Trump. That may even be helping to create this enthusiasm gap, but it’s certainly going to help exploit it. That’s one big reason to take these polling numbers with a grain of salt without discarding them altogether.