Polls: Trump and Biden in Tight Races in Florida, Arizona

(The Washington Post) -
Silhouette of Republican candidate Donald Trump (L.) and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. 

President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are locked in close races in Florida and Arizona, according to a pair of Washington Post-ABC News polls in two Sun Belt battlegrounds the president won in 2016 that are crucial to his hopes for reelection in November.

In Florida, likely voters split 51% for Trump to 47% for Biden, while registered voters split 47% for Trump to 48% for Biden. In Arizona, Trump’s margin is even smaller at 49% to Biden’s 48% among likely voters. Among Arizona’s registered voters, Trump is at 47% and Biden at 49%. All these differences are within the polls’ margins of sampling error.

The findings in the two surveys are better for the president than other polls conducted in the two states recently by other organizations. The Post’s average of polls this month shows Biden with a two-point advantage in Florida and a six-point margin in Arizona.

Overall, the surveys illustrate that the national economy, despite its weakened state, remains Trump’s strongest issue, and is helping him overcome voters’ disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

The poll also shows a close Senate race in Arizona, with Democratic nominee Mark Kelly at 49% to Republican Sen. Martha McSally’s 48% among likely voters. Kelly has a five-point edge among registered voters, 50% to 45%. There appear to be few crossover voters, with only 4% of likely voters who back Trump or Biden indicating they would flip to the opposite party in the Senate race.

Among the handful of battleground states, none is more important to the president than Florida, where a loss to Biden would cripple his chances of winning reelection and open up multiple avenues for the Democratic nominee to win an electoral college majority. Trump won the state by just over one percentage point in 2016, and both sides and their allies are throwing as many resources as possible into the competition there.

Democrats see Arizona, which has voted for a Democratic presidential nominee only once since 1952, as a prime target to convert. A Biden victory there could offset a possible loss in Wisconsin, as the two states’ electoral votes are almost equal. Wisconsin and two other Rust Belt states, Michigan and Pennsylvania, flipped to Trump in 2016 despite usually siding with Democrats, and both campaigns have targeted those states this year.

In Florida and Arizona, the Latino vote will play a significant role in determining the winner, although the makeup of that vote is more varied in Florida than in Arizona.

In Florida, the Latino vote splits 52% for Biden and 39% for Trump among registered voters, an advantage that doesn’t reach statistical significance because of a small sample size. Biden has struggled among some Latino voters, and his campaign has put renewed emphasis on reaching them. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried Florida’s Latino vote by 62% to 35%.

In Arizona, Biden leads Trump among Latinos by 61% to 34% among registered voters. Four years ago, Clinton carried the Latino vote there by 61% to 31%, according to network exit polls.

The number of Latino likely voters in the two polls is not big enough to break out a separate, statistically reliable finding on the competition between Trump and Biden.

Among White voters, Trump’s candidacy is receiving a boost from those without college degrees. He leads Biden by 30 points (64% to 34%) among these voters in Florida and by 28 points (62% to 34%) in Arizona. A narrowing of that advantage in Rust Belt states has helped Biden.

White college graduates hold differing views in the two state polls, favoring Biden by a 15-point margin in Arizona (57% to Trump’s 42%), while in Florida, Trump holds a 10-point edge among White college graduates.

Older voters make up another crucial constituency in both states. In Florida, Trump has a slight advantage over Biden (52% to 44%) among likely voters 65 and older, but that is not as large as his 17-point margin against Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Trump edges Biden 54% to 44% among seniors, about the same as his margin over Clinton in the state.

As in many polls, more Trump supporters than Biden supporters express enthusiasm for their vote. About two in three Trump supporters in both states say they are “very enthusiastic” about their backing of the president. That compares with 59% of Biden supporters in Florida and 45% of his supporters in Arizona who express that same kind of enthusiasm in their vote for Biden.