The Iowa Poll released Saturday night showed Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield with major momentum.
Forty-six percent of likely voters would vote for Greenfield if the election were held today compared to 43% who would vote for Republican Sen. Joni Ernst — a within the margin of error advantage for the challenger.
While it’s still early and things could change, this Iowa poll, conducted by Selzer & Co., is the latest state survey for either the race for the White House or Senate to show a clear shift toward Democrats since protests began nationwide following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
These state polls in aggregate suggest that the movement toward former Vice President Joe Biden seen in the national polls is funneling down to the state level.
As previously done, I gathered all the telephone state polling that called cellphones. This time I limited my data set to surveys conducted after the protests began. Then I compared the result of those questions to the 2016 presidential vote in the state. In total, we’re looking at 11 questions that asked about either the presidential or the Senate race in any particular state.
The Democratic candidate is running ahead of Hillary Clinton’s margin by an average of 10 points. Although the sample size is small, the average overperformances were within a point of the 10 point average when examining the Senate and presidential races as distinct groups. When a similar calculation was made about a month ago, Biden was doing about 5 or 6 points better than Clinton on average in the state polling.
The latest state polls imply that Biden has a double-digit advantage nationally given that Clinton won the popular vote by 2 points. These state polls are in sync with the national polls that show Biden’s lead at 10 points.
Importantly, many of these polls have been conducted across states that are the heart of the 2020 battleground. States like Arizona and Wisconsin are included in this group. Polls have also been conducted in states that Biden would like to win, but aren’t must wins for him, such as Ohio and Texas. Crucially, these are demographically distinct states in different regions of the country indicating that Trump is losing ground in a lot of different places.
All together, it’s the latest evidence that Trump cannot count on the electoral college to save him. The leads that Biden is earning right now are well outside any potential polling miscue like the one that occurred on the state level in 2016. The former vice president, simply put, is well ahead of Trump at this time.
Focusing on the Senate specifically, the limited data we have at this point is consistent with the idea that Republican candidates will not be able to hide from Trump’s unpopularity. If he continues to have an approval rating in the low 40s nationally, there is a good chance that it will cost the Republicans control of the Senate.
The polling and fundamentals did not point to Iowa being a tossup in early May, when I did a breakdown of individual Senate races. Ernst was a favorite, though it was the type of seat that might break toward the Democrats in a good environment. That’s what the latest polling indicates very well could be happening.
We see the same movement in Arizona. Democrat Mark Kelly was a favorite over Republican Sen. Martha McSally in early May, but his lead in the average poll was 6 points. A Fox News poll that was published in June had Kelly up by 13 points — a doubling of his advantage from earlier this year.
Any of these polls, individually, could be outliers. Not all of them are, however.
In totality, they suggest Republicans up and down the ballot have their work cut out for them over the next four and a half months.
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