What is even more remarkable is that Biden does not remotely need to win any of them. That he is even competitive in these states suggests he is running well above Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance. He could lose all of them and still not break a sweat in winning the electoral college.
The states that are not really close at all are Michigan and Wisconsin, where Biden leads by averages of 7.5 and 6.8 percentage points, respectively. If Biden wins those states, as seems increasingly likely, even after Trump’s racial scare-mongering in Kenosha, Wis., he would need only one of the following to win (assuming everything else falls as it did in 2016): Pennsylvania (where Biden is up by nearly 5 points); Arizona (where Biden is up by about 5 points); plus a single delegate from Nebraska’s second congressional district; Florida; North Carolina; or Georgia.
Put differently, unless Trump can reverse the trajectory of the race in Michigan and Wisconsin, he has to win practically every other competitive state. What is remarkable, however, is how badly he is doing in Wisconsin, once thought to be the hardest of the three critical Rust Belt states (along with Michigan and Pennsylvania) for Biden to win.
The latest CNN poll, in which Biden leads by 10 points among likely voters in Wisconsin, is revealing. “Biden is widely viewed as more apt to unite the country (55% to 36%) and handle racial inequality in the US (55% to 38%). He is more trusted by a 13-point margin on the coronavirus outbreak (54% to 41%),” CNN reports. “He is more often seen as having a clear plan to solve the country’s problems (49% to 43%) and has the edge on keeping Americans safe from harm (50% to 45%).” On what is supposed to be Trump’s strongest issue, the economy, it is a statistical tie. Even after Trump’s bashing of Biden as low energy or mentally slow (“projection” really is a thing), the candidates are within the margin of error on stamina and sharpness.
According to the CNN poll, Biden has huge leads among women (24 points), college graduates (28 points), White college graduates (27 points), independents (28 points) and moderates (46 points). He even leads among non-college graduates by 1 point. Trump’s leads among the strongest segments of his base are weak — among men, 3 points, and White non-college graduates, 8 points, and are not nearly enough to make up for his huge deficits elsewhere.
Can Trump come back from significant deficits in two states that nearly seal his fate? Theoretically yes, but it’s far from clear how he would pull this off. Moreover, early voting starts Sept. 24 in Michigan. In Wisconsin, absentee ballots go out Thursday, and in-person early voting starts Oct. 20. Trump is running out of time.