New polls show Biden slipping further behind Trump in critical swing states – PBS NewsHour

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New polls show Biden slipping further behind Trump in critical swing states – PBS NewsHour

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Adding to Democratic concerns about President Biden’s candidacy, new data forecasts an electoral map leaning more heavily towards Donald Trump. To walk us through these new numbers and the current electoral landscape, Geoff Bennett spoke with Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.
Amna Nawaz:
And new data is now forecasting that an electoral map that’s leaning more heavily towards Donald Trump, adding to those concerns about Biden’s candidacy.
Geoff Bennett:
To walk us through these new numbers and the current electoral landscape, we’re joined by Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter.
It’s great to have you here.
Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report:
Great to be here.
Geoff Bennett:
So your organization is forecasting some major changes in six key states. They’re all moving closer to Donald Trump, including three battleground states that include Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.
That leaves three toss-ups remaining, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Walk us through what’s happening here and then help us understand how you arrived at this, especially given what Laura reported where the Biden campaign is saying, the polls — the polls are all wrong.
Amy Walter:
Yes. That’s right.
Well, even if the polls are wrong, what we know before the debate was those three states that we moved from being toss-up, which in our parlance means anybody can win, it’s so close, we can’t — we really can’t put a thumb on the scale either way, from that category to more Republican, is that Biden was trailing by a pretty significant amount in those three states.
Part of the reason that we kept it in that toss-up category is, we know how close the race had the potential to become, especially post-election — I mean, sorry, post-debate. The debate was going to be the opportunity, which we heard time and time again from the Biden campaign, for them to make their case that once the voters who right now maybe they’re leaning toward Trump, maybe they are thinking about voting for a third-party candidate, once they see the contrast, once they understand what’s at stake, those voters are going to come home to Joe Biden.
It’s clear now that those voters, at least again, at this moment in time, are probably, at best, stuck and, in some cases, we’re seeing moving a little bit further away from him. So, those states — as I said, those states that were already problematic for Biden pre-debate, they sure look a lot harder for him post-debate.
So now we talk about the three states, Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, those Midwestern states, that have always been critical for control of the White House. Those — also, we’re seeing, again, Trump has been ahead in some of those states, but really by a closer margin.
Geoff Bennett:
Well, to further illustrate your point, if we look at the national polling average so far, the two candidates had been neck and neck for the most part, but then you see that greatest difference after the debate.
Amy Walter:
Geoff Bennett:
Still, though, this is a contest that’s on the margins.
Amy Walter:
That’s right, and that’s the whole — that our politics has been on the margins for quite some time, but certainly since 2016.
So, when the Biden campaign talks about, well, the polls have barely budged — and it is true, if you look at these national polling averages, which we also put together at The Cook Political Report, you will see that the race has basically moved just two points in Trump’s advantage at the national level.
But these last two elections have been decided at the Electoral College level by basically less than a point in three states, right, so, 79,000 votes in 2016 in the three closest states and 40,000 votes in 2020 in the three closest states. So two points is actually pretty significant.
The real question and what we’re seeing in the polling right now — and, again, there will be a lot more in the battleground states in the coming week, but at least in the national polling — the one bit of good news for Biden is that what we’re seeing are people moving off of Biden, but they’re not necessarily moving to Trump.
So these are voters who are basically saying, if you ask them, are you going to vote for Biden today,they may be reticent to say they’re voting for him, but they’re not saying, oh, this has changed my mind, I’m now voting for Trump. That’s the group of voters that’s going to be critical.
Geoff Bennett:
Well, our team heard from a group of undecided voters. This is an undecided voter in Pennsylvania who voted for Trump in 2016, President Biden in 2020, but this voter in particular has some reservations this time around.
Jessica, Pennsylvania Voter:
Trump is way too control-hungry, and Biden doesn’t seem all the way there. So, mentally, I don’t think he can deal four more years.
We watched the debates in my household. We’re still all undecided at this point.
Trae, Pennsylvania Voter:
One guy is basically brain-dead and the other one tried to take over the Capitol. It’s not very — giving people an optimistic view of the future, I would say.
Geoff Bennett:
So that’s a fairly bleak assessment.
Amy Walter:
Geoff Bennett:
I mean, how reflective of that…
Amy Walter:
Geoff Bennett:
How much does that reflect the electorate?
Amy Walter:
That’s very reflective of where the electorate is right now.
And this actually — going into the next week — remember, we’re going into the Republican National Convention. We have talked a lot about Biden and how he talks to those folks. I’m very curious to see how Donald Trump talks to those voters.
Does he convince them that the things that they just said about him, he’s power-hungry, the Capitol, January 6 event, does he convince them that maybe that’s not as big of a problem as their worries about Biden? Or do they walk away from that convention saying, gosh, I just can’t vote for either one?
Geoff Bennett:
And here’s one more voter from this panel that Sarah Longwell convened. This is a Black voter in Georgia who is supporting the president and she explains how she’s thinking about the race.
Jazmin, Georgia Voter:
I don’t really consider a vote for Biden, a vote for change. I consider a vote for Biden a vote for continuity and the status quo, which is, gosh, that’s fine right now, because the 2016 was just insane. I don’t want to see that again.
So I’m fine with — if the next four years absolutely, nothing improves or changes, I wouldn’t even care, as long as it doesn’t get worse.
Geoff Bennett:
And in some ways, this illustrates why the Biden campaign was trying to make this an election that was a referendum on Donald Trump and how this debate performance really complicated that, yes?
Amy Walter:
It made it — exactly, made it much more about that.
Which is the riskier bet, going with Biden, who looked very shaky, or going with somebody, as this woman said, who she knows has been more about chaos?
Geoff Bennett:
Amy Walter, thanks so much, as always.
Amy Walter:
Thank you.
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Geoff Bennett serves as co-anchor of PBS News Hour. He also serves as an NBC News and MSNBC political contributor.

Saher Khan is a reporter-producer for the PBS NewsHour.
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