In the first national survey asking voters about the allegations, Joe Biden widened his lead over President Trump in a head-to-head matchup that has continued to grow in the last couple of months.
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead over President Trump is growing nationwide even though most voters are aware of a sexual assault allegation against him, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday. It is the first major national survey to ask voters about the allegation by a former Senate aide against the former vice president.
All told, 50 percent of voters said they would vote for Mr. Biden in a head-to-head matchup, and 41 percent said they would vote for Mr. Trump. In an Monmouth poll in April, Mr. Biden led the president by just four percentage points; in March, he led by three. The margin of error in the new poll was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.A large majority of voters — 86 percent — were aware of the allegation that Mr. Biden sexually assaulted a Senate aide, Tara Reade, in 1993. Ms. Reade says he pinned her to a wall, reached under her clothing and penetrated her with his fingers.After Mr. Biden publicly denied Ms. Reade’s accusation on Friday, Monmouth added a question to the poll already in progress, asking whether voters had heard about the allegation and whether they thought it was true.Of course, national polls measure the national popular vote, which is really only indirectly related to who will win the White House — Democrats have won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College in two of the last seven elections and could do so again in 2020. U.S. presidential elections are really a contest of states.
Several polling firms released surveys of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in April. Former President Barack Obama carried all four states in 2012. Trump flipped all four in 2016 (as well as Ohio and Iowa, neither of which has much recent polling.) And Biden appears to lead in all four now. (North Carolina, which has gone Republican in both of the last two cycles, was also polled pretty often in April, with Trump and Biden looking basically tied there.)
The presidential race in key states according to early polls
Average margin in states where at least 3 polls were conducted in April
|State||Number of polls||Biden||Trump||Average Margin|
Includes polls conducted partly in March 2020 but finished in April. Polls that released results among multiple populations were included only once, counting the narrowest sample — registered voters over adults, and likely voters over registered voters.
This data highlights a few things. First, at least at the moment, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are very close to the national tipping point — so they’re likely to be among the more determinative states this November. Second, the former vice president’s lead nationally is big enough to carry these states. This is important — if Biden wins all of the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 plus any combination of three of these four, he would be elected president.
But crucially, Biden’s margins in these states are slightly smaller than his advantage in national polls. It’s worth thinking about the race at the state level in these relative terms because there’s still so much time for things to shift. If Biden’s lead nationally narrowed to 2 to 3 percentage points, these states would likely be much closer, if not lean toward Trump. Also, as The New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote recently, Trump is likely to look stronger when pollsters start limiting their results to “likely voters.” Most of the April surveys in these four states were conducted among registered voters or all adults, two groups that include some people who may not vote in November.