Four little-noticed trends that suggest Trump could have an edge in November

Do the polls imply a Biden wave on November 3? Or are we seeing a repeat of 2016 when almost nobody predicted Trump would — or even could — win? There are four little-discussed trends that worry Biden supporters.

Published: August 31, 2020 9:50pm

Updated: September 1, 2020 8:35pm

Almost all recent national polling has showed President Trump consistently behind Joe Biden. According to RealClearPolitics, which uses averages of released polls, Biden remains up in the national polls, the battleground states, and even the betting odds. The current electoral count at RealClearPolitics stands at 115 for Trump, 212 for Biden and 211 tossups, with 270 votes needed to win.

Do these statistics imply a Biden wave on Nov. 3? Or are we seeing a repeat of 2016 when almost nobody predicted Trump would — or even could — win?

There are four little-discussed trends that worry Biden supporters:

1. Betting Odds

Gamblers are giving Biden the edge over Trump: 50.7% to 48.3%. But a look at the trend line shows a large decline for Biden and a comeback for Trump from just 30 days ago. On Aug. 1, the odds were 61% for Biden and 36.4% for Trump.

2. Top Battleground States

With the exception of North Carolina, which is a virtual tie, the RealClearPolitics average shows Biden ahead in every other key battleground state. When averaged together, Biden is up over Trump 48% to 45.3% in six states: Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona. 

The concern for the Biden camp comes with a comparison to 2016. Although Trump is on the losing end right now, his position is actually slightly ahead of where he was in the battleground states in 2016. Explained another way: Hillary Clinton was beating Trump more in the battleground states in 2016 than Joe Biden is now — and we know Trump actually won in 2016. So does the current trend imply an even larger Trump win? 

3. Total Approval

Judging by the news coverage and social media, it would be easy to conclude that Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents of all time. However, Rasmussen Reports, the only polling organization that publishes Trump's job approval ratings on a daily basis, finds the 45th president is not nearly as unpopular as it may seem. His total approval among likely voters frequently bests that of President Obama at the same point in his presidency. All of the high marks since April 2018 have been set by Trump (compared to Obama). On Sept. 24, 2019 Trump's total approval hit 53% compared to Obama's 44% on Sept. 24, 2011. 

4. Favorability Ratings

For the past year, Biden has, without exception, bested Trump in favorability ratings. Right now, Biden is significantly ahead of Trump, by 13.2 points. The concern for the Biden team comes with a comparison to 2016, when Hillary Clinton was, likewise, ahead of Trump every single day — but often by a bigger margin. And Trump won, in the end. RealClearPolitics tracking shows Trump has spent most of the past year in a better position than he was in 2016 (signified by red in the graph). 

Even the most confident pundits appear to be hesitant to predict a firm outcome, based on the numbers, this time around. It's hard to disagree with one takeaway: With the election a little more than two months away, it's still anybody’s game.

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