Report: While polls still show Biden ahead of Trump, early voting data hints at close race

While the polls say Joe Biden is in the lead, the Democrat would be wrong to get complacent about Election Day.

Early voting data in some critical battleground states suggests that the race between Biden and President Donald Trump is much closer than the polls have made it appear, the Washington Examiner reports.

Polls vs. data

For President Trump to win a second term, he is very much hoping to take battleground states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, which he carried by surprise in 2016. According to RealClearPolitics, Trump is down by roughly three points in Pennsylvania, by eight points in Michigan, and by more than six points in Wisconsin.

A recent poll from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has Biden with an even greater lead: since September, according to the poll, Biden’s advantage has grown from six points to 10 in Michigan, from four points to eight in Pennsylvania, and from four to nine in Wisconsin.

Significantly, the University of Wisconsin-Madison claims that Biden has built a strong enough lead with early voting that Trump, who is said to be favored by people who haven’t voted yet, is in trouble: those who voted already favor Biden by margins of 75% to 23% in Michigan, by 87% to 9% in Pennsylvania, and 73% to 26% in Wisconsin, according to the poll.

It all sounds nice for Biden — but early voting data tells a different story. As the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday, TargetSmart, a Democratic consulting firm that tracks early voting, appears to show that Trump is doing just fine.

In Wisconsin, 43% of early votes were from Republicans, compared to 36% for Democrats. In Michigan, Republicans are ahead 41% to 39%, the Examiner notes.

Ground shifting under Biden?

There are some asterisks: the data shows party registration, but doesn’t guarantee which candidate people voted for, and TargetSmart resorts to a model to predict the party affiliation of voters in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, which don’t register voters by party.

“I would believe the poll numbers more than a modeling approach that cannot be verified,” David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggested, according to the Examiner.

The early voting data shows Republicans are behind by a large margin in Pennsylvania, which does provide data on party affiliation, with just 25% of ballots returned coming from Republicans, compared to 63% for Democrats.

When it comes down to it, the election will likely be decided by Midwestern battlegrounds and states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina. With few exceptions, polls have shown Biden ahead in most of these states. Some polls, like Trafalgar Group’s, are looking stronger for Trump than average.

America will soon find out if the polls got it wrong again.

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