National polls still raise some questions.
Another good day for Biden in Wisconsin. On Tuesday, I said that we’d have an unusually clear picture of the race in Wisconsin if the ABC News/Washington Post poll Wednesday found Joe Biden ahead by at least five points. That’s exactly what we got: The poll showed Mr. Biden up by six points among likely voters in Wisconsin.
It puts him in a strong position in the state, hovering at or above 50 percent with a consistent lead in an unusual number of recent high-quality surveys.
Wisconsin was the “tipping point” state in 2016 — the one that pushed President Trump over the Electoral College threshold. It remains crucial to Mr. Trump’s re-election hopes, and many thought Wisconsin would be a real challenge for Mr. Biden. The state has a large share of white working-class voters, who swung hard to Mr. Trump in 2016. On top of that, Mr. Biden seemed to be weaker in the suburbs of Milwaukee than he was in suburbs elsewhere in the country. And finally, the unrest in Kenosha last month seemed to give Mr. Trump another opening.
But unrest in Kenosha didn’t lead to a change in the state of the race in Wisconsin, and that might say a lot about the national political environment. If the president can’t break through in Wisconsin now — in the immediate aftermath of the Republican convention and unrest in Kenosha — when could he?
If you pencil in Mr. Biden’s leads in Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan, he’s essentially one flipped battleground state away from crossing 270 electoral votes.
An eye-popper in Minnesota ABC News/Washington Post also released a poll of neighboring Minnesota, showing Mr. Biden ahead by 16 points in a state Hillary Clinton won by only 1.5 in 2016.
To be clear: It’s pretty unlikely that Mr. Biden is actually ahead by 16 points in Minnesota. It’s probably a noisy, outlying result. But the poll joins a host of other high-quality surveys — including from CBS News/YouGov and The New York Times/Siena College — showing Mr. Biden ahead by at least nine points in the state. His lead might not be 16 points, but it’s large, and it’s real.
An even bigger eye-popper in Maine Quinnipiac released a poll of Maine with incredibly strong results for Democrats: a 21-point lead for Mr. Biden in a state Mrs. Clinton won by only three points in 2016, and a 12-point lead for the Democrat Sara Gideon in a hotly contested race against the incumbent Republican senator, Susan Collins.
A word of caution: Quinnipiac has leaned quite a bit to the left in this cycle; I recommend nudging these to the right a few points in your head before taking them to the bank. And that’s even before considering the possibility that it’s an outlier, like the ABC/Washington Post poll in Minnesota. That said, you could cut Mr. Biden’s lead in half and it would still be a strong result for Democrats.
Most of all, know that Maine is a very underpolled state. It’s hard to say it’s an outlier without any other polls for comparison. Tread carefully. Fortunately, we’ll have a second opinion in a few days from a Times/Siena College poll.
A split between state and national polls? If you look over the state polls so far this week, you see a run of strong results for Mr. Biden — some of his best of the cycle. But if you look at the national releases, you see stability, or even a bit of tightening.
It’s hard to know what to make of the split.
One possibility is that it’s just noise: The national polling is pretty sparse and often of fairly questionable quality. And some of the state polling for Mr. Biden — like the Quinnipiac poll — comes from firms with a record of showing him doing particularly well.
But it’s also possible that it reflects a real split, perhaps driven by demographics: Most of the great results for Mr. Biden in recent state polls have come in overwhelmingly white states, and there are plenty of national (and state) poll results suggesting that Mr. Biden is running ahead of Mrs. Clinton among white voters but faring worse among nonwhite voters. If so, it might lead to seemingly surprising results for Mr. Biden in overwhelmingly white states like Minnesota and Maine without corresponding national leads.
Of course, it’s not necessarily a bad trade for Mr. Biden. After all, Mrs. Clinton probably would have traded a few points nationwide for greater support in the Midwest.
Good news for Democrats in the Senate. Along with the wide lead for Democrats in Maine, Quinnipiac found a tied race in the South Carolina Senate race. And OH Predictive Insights found the Democratic challenger Mark Kelly up by 10 points in his Arizona Senate race. They’re not the first polls to show an unexpectedly tight race in South Carolina and a wide lead for Democrats in Arizona. We’ll get another poll in Arizona on Thursday from Monmouth University.