While pundits throughout the mainstream media continue to cite polling that shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a national lead over President Donald Trump ahead of Election Day, other statistics indicate that advantage might be slipping.
According to a new survey by CNBC and Change Research, fewer voters in six crucial swing states say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant concern as Trump’s approval rate in those same states ticks upward.
Shifting political sands
The poll included responses from likely voters in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and Arizona.
Among the respondents, about two in three said they still have concerns about COVID-19 — down three points from the 69% reported in a poll two weeks ago. The results further showed that 45% of those polled said they were seriously concerned about the virus, which is four points lower than the prior poll.
Along with the apparently easing concerns regarding the pandemic, pollsters found that Trump’s approval numbers were two points higher, registering 48% in the latest survey.
While Biden maintains a three-point advantage overall — 49% to 46% — in his bid to limit the president to one term, individual state results show a tightening race.
In North Carolina, for example, Biden leads Trump by just one point, which is within the poll’s 1.4% margin of error.
“Plays into the fears of voters”
The former vice president’s biggest advantage among the six states is Michigan, where he leads the president 50% to 44%.
While Trump and his administration have earned criticism for the federal response to the ongoing public health crisis, Biden’s recent comments regarding a willingness to shut the country down again to stop the virus’s spread caused some voters to question his position.
Bret Stephens, an opinion writer for The New York Times, wrote that the comment could hurt Biden’s chances among undecided voters.
“It’s the sort of remark that surely plays well with voters who already support him,” he wrote, but argued that “loose talk of nationwide shutdowns plays into the fears of voters who feel they have been both impoverished and patronized.”
Just as in 2016, some Democrats are clinging to the belief that Trump simply cannot win. As voters consider what a Biden administration might actually mean for them the their communities, however, his victory in November could prove to be less certain than the president’s foes want to believe.