A new set of New York Times polls in swing states for the presidential election challenges the comfy assumption that the Democrats are going to retake the White House in 2020.
On the contrary, if swing state data is accurate, President Donald Trump would likely win another four years in office if Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren were the nominee — and a huge part of that is the difference between what registered voters and likely voters have to say.
In The Times’ polls, released Monday, the president was pitted against Joe Biden, Sanders and Warren in six key swing states Trump won back in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.
Among registered voters, Trump is having some difficulty. He wins one out of six states against Biden and three out of six against both Sanders and Warren.
Against likely voters, however, things change.
Trump still wins one out of six against Biden, but the margins get a lot closer. None of the states have margins greater than four points while some of the margins were as much as six with registered voters.
Meanwhile, among likely voters, Trump wins four out of six states against Sanders and five out of six against Warren.
If the map remains static, the Democrats would likely need three of the states to take back the presidency.
The poll was taken between Oct. 13 and Oct. 26 by The New York Times Upshot and Siena College among slightly under 3,800 registered voters. The 10 separate polls had an average margin of error of 2.5 points.
The results didn’t look particularly good for the two left-leaning candidates who currently have podium positions in the Democrat polling sweepstakes — and Biden didn’t exactly look so hot, either.
“Across the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points among registered voters but stays within the margin of error,” The Times’ report read.
“Mr. Trump leads Elizabeth Warren by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago.
“The poll showed Bernie Sanders deadlocked with the president among registered voters, but trailing among likely voters.”
As polling firm Rasmussen noted, the difference between registered voters and likely voters is a big one.
Notice the differences here between a Registered Voters (RV) based sample and a Likely Voters (LV) sample.
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) November 4, 2019
As you can probably guess, a poll with registered voters merely determines what people who are registered in a certain locale are thinking. Meanwhile, likely voters are individuals who polling organizations can identify as likely to come out and cast a ballot next November.
In short, once you pull the flakes out of the cereal bowl, breakfast looks quite a bit different.
Among likely voters, the prospects don’t look particularly great for either Sanders or Warren. However, it doesn’t look particularly great for Biden, either.
“While Mr. Biden ranks as the strongest Democrat in the swing states polled, the findings are not necessarily great news for him, either,” The Times reported. “His appeal to Democrats hinges on the view that he’s a safe bet against the president, yet his lead against Mr. Trump is not nearly so comfortable that he could be considered a sure thing.”
This clearly isn’t a sure thing for him, particularly when you look at how weak he looks. Then again, none of this looks particularly good for any of the Democrat frontrunners.
If this holds up, Trump will win. Beyond the fact that Joe Biden doesn’t look particularly strong just a few months before the first states go to vote, you have to consider how correct you believe these polls to be. Polling was off in swing states in 2016 and it very well could be again.
If this is a race against Biden, Trump has to worry about Uncle Joe taking moderate voters. Then again, he doesn’t have to worry about any sort of energetic campaign being run, especially when you consider the dramatically diminishing returns we’ve seen from Biden in the run-up to 2020. (Trump didn’t pick “Sleepy Joe” without a reason, after all.)
If this is a race against Sanders or Warren, he has to worry about a bit more energy, which is both surprising and sad when you consider all three are septuagenarians. Then again, he doesn’t have to worry quite so much about centrist voters being wooed over.
Either way, get ready for another four years of complaining about the popular vote and the Electoral College — assuming, of course, Trump doesn’t take both.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.