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US Election 2020

USA Election 2020: who is leading the polls in the swing states?

There are still 16 days of campaigning to go, but polls suggest that President Donald Trump is lagging behind Joe Biden in the most important swing states.

There are still 16 days of campaigning to go, but polls suggest that President Donald Trump is lagging behind Joe Biden in the most important swing states.

Polling data gathered in a number of key swing states suggests that Joe Biden is the favourite to win the 2020 Presidential Election. The former vice president is currently leading in seven of the eight most hotly-contested states, according to polling analysts FiveThirtyEight. 

Election officials have reported record numbers of early votes with over 26 million Americans having voted as of Saturday 17 October. For comparison, around six million had voted at that stage in the 2016 election. With so many entrenched in their support on either side, succeeding in the swing states is now more crucial than ever

Most pollsters agree that Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the key battlegrounds that will define the course of the election. America’s Electoral College system allocates different importance to each state depending on size. Florida is the most prized of the swing states, contributing 29 votes of the 538 available across the country. Wyoming, by comparison, is worth just three.

The Final Presidential Debate on 22 October could be vital in convincing any remaining undecided voters, but here's where we stand with 16 days to go...

How are Trump and Biden faring in each of the swing states?


In 2016 Donald Trump won Arizona by 3.55% but recent polls show that he is around 2% down on Biden’s predicted voter share, meaning he could lose 11 Electoral College votes. The President’s 2016 was victory relied on a very impressive showing amongst the over 65s but Biden apepars to be doing well with the older voters this time around.


The juiciest prize of the swing states went Republican by just 1.2% in 2016 but recent polling suggests that the Democrats will be able to flip the state. A recent poll put Biden about 3% ahead but with unprecedented number of early voters casting in his favour. Many expect Republican voters to turn out on election day meaning that a massive 29 electoral college votes could still be up for grabs on 3 November.


Of all the swing states Georgia is one of the most settled, not returning a Democratic vote since Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign. In 2016 the state maintained that run with a 5% vote split in Trump’s favour but polling suggest that things are much closer this time out. Recent projections suggest that the President’s lead is down to less than 1% in the state which provides 16 electoral votes and he may well need to retain it to stay in the race.


Trump’s success in 2016 was predicated on a number of very narrow victories in some key swing states, and none were narrower than Michigan. Republicans secured the state by 0.23% and picked up 16 Electoral College votes having performed well amongst the white working-class demographic. The turnout is expected to be far higher this year with early and no-excuse-absentee voting laws introduced and Democrats will likely benefit from the wave of new voters. Currently, the Democrats are polling around 6% ahead.


The only one of the eight swing states for 2020 that returned a Democratic vote in 2016 was Minnesota. In the last election Hillary Clinton won by 1.52% and the state twice voted in Barack Obama favour, when this year’s candidate Joe Biden was his running mate. Polls this time out suggest that that Biden is comfortably ahead with a lead of around 9%.

North Carolina

One of the most telling races this election will be over the battleground state of North Carolina, where Trump secure a 3.66% victory in 2016. Polls put the Democrats 2% ahead in this year’s race but the outcome of one of the most tightly-contested states could well signal who the next President will be. Democrat and a state senator Jeff Jackson recently claimed that two North Carolina counties, Mecklenburg and Wake, “will determine the outcome of the presidential election and will determine the majority of the U.S. Senate.”


Another of the narrow 2016 victories for the Republicans was Pennsylvania which, with 20 Electoral College votes, is the second-most lucrative of the swing states. Pennsylvania went Red in the last Presidential election but Trump’s winning margin was less than 1% and Biden's campaign has targeted the state relentlessly, spending five times as much on TV, radio and digital ads as Trump did in September. Biden is currently 6% ahead and seems unlikely to forfeit that lead at this late stage.


The third of the ‘Rust Belt’ states to swing in Donald Trump’s favour in 2016 was Wisconsin, where he won by 0.77%. That narrow Republican victory was aided by the presence of a Green Party candidate who took a vital chunk out of the Democratic vote. This time around that will not be an issue with a Green option not included on the ballot and Trump’s approval rating in the state plummeting due to his handling of the pandemic. With less than three weeks until Election Day, FiveThirtyEight have Biden 7% ahead.


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