CNN Polls: Biden holds double-digit lead in Pennsylvania, while Florida is tight
Posted October 21, 2020 4:02 p.m. EDT
Updated October 21, 2020 5:10 p.m. EDT
CNN — Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a lead in Pennsylvania and neither he nor President Donald Trump leads in the critical state of Florida, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS.
The polls, which completed fielding two weeks before Election Day, find sizable minorities of voters saying they have already voted, with those voters breaking heavily for Biden in both states. Those who have yet to cast their ballots, though, break in Trump's favor, but not by as large a margin as Biden holds among those who have voted now.
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In Florida, which has 29 electoral votes and is a critical battleground in the presidential race, 50% of likely voters say they back Biden, 46% Trump. The difference between the two is right at the poll's margin of sampling error, meaning there is no clear leader in the survey.
The Pennsylvania results show Biden well ahead in the state, which holds 20 electoral votes, with 53% of likely voters behind him and 43% backing Trump.
Across both surveys, Biden holds a double-digit advantage over Trump as more trusted to handle the coronavirus outbreak (54% Biden to 42% Trump in Pennsylvania and 53% Biden to 43% Trump in Florida), and the same is true for handling racial inequality in the US (58% Biden to 39% Trump in Pennsylvania and 54% Biden to 42% Trump in Florida). In both states, he also has a small edge over Trump on handling nominations to the Supreme Court (51% to 45% in Pennsylvania, 50% to 46% in Florida). Biden is more often seen as the candidate who would unite the country rather than divide it (56% Biden to 39% Trump in Florida and 58% Biden to 35% Trump in Pennsylvania), and as caring more about people like you (55% Biden to 42% Trump in Pennsylvania and 52% Biden to 43% Trump in Florida).
In Pennsylvania, Biden's advantage also includes an edge on having a clear plan for solving the country's problems (50% Biden to 42% Trump) and keeping Americans safe from harm (51% Biden to 46% Trump).
In Florida, the margin on those two metrics is far tighter, with 49% saying Biden has a clear plan to solve the country's problems vs. 45% who say Trump does, and 49% that Biden will keep Americans safe from harm vs. 47% saying Trump will.
Trump holds a lead over Biden as more trusted on the economy in Florida, 51% say they prefer Trump vs. 46% Biden. In Pennsylvania, though, the two are near even on this question, 50% say they trust Trump more, 48% Biden.
The new polls are consistent with other high-quality polling in the two states in recent days. In Florida, a CNN Poll of Polls average shows Biden at 49% support in the state and Trump at 44%. The current average of high-quality polls in Pennsylvania also shows a Biden lead, with 52% on average behind the former Vice President and 43% backing the current president.
Among those who have already voted in both states, Biden holds a wide advantage, but Trump leads among those who have not yet cast ballots in both states. In Pennsylvania, where pre-election voting hasn't been a major factor in past elections, Biden leads by 88% to 10% among the roughly one-quarter of likely voters who have already cast ballots. But among those who have not yet voted, 54% back Trump, 42% Biden.
There is also a stark difference between these two groups in Florida, where a majority of ballots cast in presidential elections since 2008 have come via pre-election voting. About 35% of likely voters say they have already cast a ballot there, and with that group, 71% say they back Biden, 27% Trump. Those who have yet to cast a ballot break for Trump, 56% to 40%.
The surveys also show that enthusiasm about voting is higher among Trump supporters than it is among Biden supporters in both states. In Florida, 58% of likely Trump voters say that they are extremely enthusiastic about voting this year compared with 49% of Biden voters. In Pennsylvania, the gap is narrower, with 61% of Trump voters saying they are extremely enthusiastic about voting vs. 56% among Biden voters.
Biden holds the lead in both states among women, voters of color and voters age 65 and older. Men split evenly in Pennsylvania but break for Trump in Florida. Voters under age 35 break solidly for Biden in both states, but voters between age 35 and 49 in Pennsylvania lean Biden's way while they tilt toward Trump in Florida.
In Pennsylvania, there is a massive divide among White voters by education, with White voters who have four-year college degrees supporting Biden over Trump by a 63% to 35% margin, while those who do not hold degrees favor Trump by a 59% to 35% margin. That divide is smaller in Florida, where White college-graduate voters split evenly, 49% behind each candidate.
In Florida, White voters generally break in Trump's favor, while Biden's lead with voters of color is narrower than it is in Pennsylvania (66% Biden to 30% Trump in Florida compared with 83% Biden to 13% Trump in Pennsylvania). In Florida, the survey suggests Biden is underperforming Hillary Clinton's 2016 showing in the state among Latino voters, with 52% backing Biden and 45% Trump (Clinton won 62% of this group, according to exit polling there).
The President's approval rating among likely voters mirrors his overall support in the presidential race. In Pennsylvania, 44% approve of Trump's handling of the presidency; that stands at 45% in Florida.
The CNN Polls in Florida and Pennsylvania were conducted by telephone from October 15 through October 20 among random samples of adults in both states. In Florida, interviews were conducted with 1,002 adults, including 847 likely voters. In Pennsylvania, interviews were conducted with 1,015 adults, including 843 likely voters. Results among likely voters in both states have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. It is higher among subgroups.