Democratic nominee Joe Biden remains in strong position to win Pennsylvania and the vast majority of voters have made up their minds, according to a new wave of polling that shows President Donald Trump struggling to make up ground even as voting is already underway.
A Monmouth University survey released Tuesday showed Biden leading by 11 percentage points (54-43) in a high voter turnout scenario, and by eight (53-45) in a low turnout scenario. Most analysts and pollsters expect high turnout in the Nov. 3 election, less than one month away.
Another poll, from Ipsos, found a smaller lead for Biden, at 5 percentage points.
Each poll came after the Sept. 29 presidential debate, which was seen as one of Trump’s last significant opportunities to change the race’s trajectory. Most of the Times and CBS polling, however, was completed before Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis was announced Friday.
Half of Monmouth’s polling was done before the president’s diagnosis became public. The survey results were almost the same before and after.
“We’ve grown accustomed to big news not having any effect on the needle. This is not good news for Trump, who really needs to see that needle move," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “If anything, the president’s health crisis may be reminding voters about their own vulnerability.”
Overall, Monmouth’s 8- to 11-point lead for Biden is a sharp increase from its August survey, which found him leading by 1 to 3, but it matches other polls that have consistently found Biden ahead by high single digits.
The results are also in line with other surveys that regularly show Biden winning the most crucial swing states, and running close in places like Ohio and Georgia, which were expected to be relatively safe wins for Trump.
“If any recent event moved the needle it was more likely last week’s debate than the president’s COVID diagnosis," Murray said. "What seems to be more important than either event, though, is voters' focus on which candidate they trust more on the issues that keep them up at night.”
The poll found that 60% of Pennsylvania voters said Biden has at least some understanding of their day-to-day concerns, compared with 45% for Trump. Biden led, by varying degrees, on the questions of who would better handle the pandemic, health care, and “maintaining law and order.” Trump held an edge on the economy.
It also found Biden gaining ground with many Pennsylvania demographics, increasing his lead among voters of color, to 83% to 16%, while pulling nearly even among white voters.
Surveys can be off, but when three polls all find the same outcome it increases confidence that they are accurate. An average of Pennsylvania polls by the website FiveThirtyEight showed Biden leading Pennsylvania by about 6 percentage points.
Republicans argue that the polls were off in 2016 and are still mistaken compared with what they see internally, but they have refused to detail what their own surveys show.
Some of the polls' findings suggest that many voters were turned off by Trump’s interruptions and personal attacks throughout the first debate.
The Times survey found a sharp spike in the share of voters who said Trump does not have the proper temperament to be president. Far more said he doesn’t have the right approach.
Biden, who at times shot back at Trump during the debate, once calling him a “clown,” received more positive marks: 56% said he has the temperament to be president, compared with 40% who disagreed.
In the CBS poll, 61% said Biden acts “in a presidential way,” compared with 28% who said that about Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence and the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris, are set to debate Wednesday. Trump and Biden are scheduled for two more debates this month, though it remains to be seen how Trump’s having contracted the virus may affect those plans.
Trump dismissed the latest surveys as “fake polls” in a Twitter post Tuesday. “I will win Pennsylvania!” he said.
The Times surveyed 706 likely voters in Pennsylvania and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. CBS polled 1,202 registered voters, which includes a smaller share of likely voters. The margin of error was 3.1 percentage points for registered voters but would be larger for the smaller sample of likely voters.