BTRTN Presidential Snapshot: A Flurry of New Polls – Is the Race Getting Tight?

Tom with the latest BTRTN look at the race.

There was an absolute deluge of national and swing state polls in September, and they tell the same story: Joe Biden is firmly in control. The race has not intensified a bit; if anything, it has moved slightly in Biden’s direction.

Although the mail-in voting has already begun and the face-to-face voting in three states begins in three days, a lot can still change. We have three debates ahead of us and endless news cycles – think of this as a “snapshot” rather than a “prediction”.

But almost all of the breaking news was favorable to Biden. First there was the Atlantic article quoting Trump as calling World War I soldiers buried outside Paris “losers”. While The White House was still issuing angry rejections. Trump then dismantled his own generals for pushing for wars to fill the defense companies’ pockets. Then there were two revelations that Biden broke fundraising records by raising $ 365 million a month (dwarfing Trump’s $ 210 million) and that the Trump campaign participated in the Top of the stretch ride was actually low in cash.

This was followed by the first tidbits of Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage” (published today), in which he interviewed Trump 19 times – on tape! The tapes showed exactly how much Trump had misled the public about COVID-19 back in February. We now know exactly “what the president knew” and “when he knew”. Neither these revelations nor holding rallies indoors without masks or distancing will help Trump on the campaign’s biggest question: how to deal with COVID-19. Biden is already winning on this issue with ease, and only 40% of Americans are in favor of Trump’s COVID response, while 56% are against it.

The Trump administration has brought some good news in the Middle East lately, with first the UAE and then Bahrain establishing normalized relations with Israel. All in all, Trump was on the defensive for the first two weeks of September, soothing wounds, mostly self-inflicted.

Before we dive into the latest numbers, this would be an opportune time to remind Democrats of our constant refrain – our warning label:

WARNING: No matter how good the numbers look at any given point in time, the Democrats won’t win elections unless they work hard to earn them – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – during the summer and fall up to and including election day .


Based on recent polls (and other factors including judgment), our BTRTN models now show that Biden has an 81% chance of winning the presidency if the elections are held all at once today. This is a little over the 79% we calculated a week ago. This graph presents our most recent probabilities for the Senate and House of Democrats, who control the Senate and House, and shows the potential for a trifecta.

Chances of voting for winning / controlling Democrats

251 Dems / 187 GOP (Dems +18)

* Including independents meeting with the Democrats.
Also assumes Biden wins the presidency, which would require the Democrats to get 50 seats to control the Senate.

So far, there have been 14 national surveys in September, seven in the first week and seven in the second. They’ve barely fluttered compared to the August polls, with Biden maintaining a +7 percentage point lead. Biden now has an average of 50% of the votes in these polls. Remember, given the structural advantages the GOP has in the electoral college, a “true” lead for Biden requires a 4 point advantage to get into the swing states. With +7 Biden is clearly ahead and in a relatively strong position.



In September there were 45 polls in the 14 swing states and two swing districts, of which Joe Biden conducted 37. Trump has led in just six and there have been two draws.

Based on this new set of surveys, we’ve made three changes to the BTRTN ratings since our September 7th snapshot, each in the direction of Joe Biden.

Team Trump has long tried to bring Minnesota into the game, but with three new polls in Biden + 8 / + 9, those hopes seem to be fading. Arizona has emerged as a potential flip state, a safety valve that gives Biden more avenues to 270 than just flipping the states Trump flipped in 2016.
In Nebraska’s sophomore year there have been few polls recently District, but it goes Biden’s way, and every election is worth having, especially since there are 269-269 scenarios.

There are now eight real Toss Up states, and Biden doesn’t have to win a single one to win the election. It has a solid 210 of its “blue wall” units (states or districts), another 16 of three “likely” entities, and another 63 of six lopsided states: Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska 2nd District, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump won everyone (except Nevada) by the smallest margin in 2016, but Biden is now leading by 4-7 points each.

Here is an overview of all states or counties.


Solid Dem (18 states or counties, 210 votes): California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, 1st District Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington

Solid GOP (22 states or counties, 125 votes): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nebraska 1st and 3rd District, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

But also note that there is a lot to overcome – voter suppression, Russian meddling, Trump lies, third party influence, slow mail-in voting, and more. Take good note of our warning:

WARNING: No matter how good the numbers look at any given point in time, the Democrats won’t win elections unless they work hard to earn them – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – during the summer and fall up to and including election day .

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