Elections 2020: Trump Must-win States, Florida and Arizona


  • Sept. 27, 2020
  • 4 min read


Arizona/Florida: As a polling entity, the ABC News/Washington Post effort is rated as one of six A+ pollsters on the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization rating card. The media partners just released a pair of polls this week, one from Arizona and the other Florida. They both capture how much a survey sample can swing based upon segmentation, in this case from registered to likely voters.

The Arizona poll (9/15-20; 701 AZ registered voters; 579 AZ likely voters) finds President Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, 47-49% with registered voters, but leading 49-48% among those who are most likely to vote. In Florida, we see an even greater split. That ABC/WP survey (9/15-20; 765 FL registered voters; 613 FL likely voters) projects that Mr. Biden is holding a bare 48-47% edge among those registered to vote but leads 51-47% within the segment of those most likely to cast their ballot. This example underscores the importance of the voter participation model in determining election outcomes.

ME-2; NE-2: Maine and Nebraska are the two states that split their electoral votes, and the pair of districts that have a tendency to vote opposite their state and award an electoral vote to the losing statewide candidate, ME-2 and NE-2, show leads for former Vice President Joe Biden even though they are must win races for President Trump.

Siena College/New York Times tested the 2nd District of Maine, the state’s northern seat, (9/11-16; 440 ME-2 likely voters; live interview) and sees the Biden advantage to be 47-45%. The Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group surveyed NE-2 (9/14-16; 400 NE-2 likely voters; live interview) and posts an even larger 51-45% Biden advantage in that district. Suffolk University released their own Maine poll. The 2nd District portion (9/17-20; 233 ME-2 likely voters; live interview) also forecasts a 47-45% split, thus providing support for the Siena College/NYT conclusion.


Alabama: The Alabama Republican challenger campaign has generally drawn little national attention, but a new Morning Consult survey (9/11-20; 658 AL likely voters; online from pre-determined sampling group) suggests that retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R) enjoys a major lead over Sen. Doug Jones (D). The MC results find Mr. Tuberville holding a strong 52-34% advantage over Sen. Jones. Winning this seat is critical to any chance the Republicans have of holding their Senate majority.

Arizona/Michigan: We have two more examples of pollsters testing the same electorate and arriving at vastly different conclusions. In Arizona, Morning Consult (9/11-20; 907 AZ likely voters; online from pre-determined sampling group) finds retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) holding a nine-point, 49-40%, lead over appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). While Fabrizio Lee & Associates also see Mr. Kelly with an edge, the margin is much different. From their survey (9/14-16; 800 AZ likely voters; live interview), Kelly’s lead is only two points over Sen. McSally, 48-46%.

We see a similar pattern in Michigan. The Ipsos research organization (9/11-16; 637 MI likely voters) detects Sen. Gary Peters (D) with a six-point, 49-43%, spread over manufacturing company owner John James (R), while the Marketing Resource Group (9/14-19; 600 MI likely voters) sees only a two point difference between the two, 42-40%, with a greater undecided factor.

Georgia-B: Siena College/New York Times and Data for Progress went into the field almost simultaneously and both found appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), and Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock (D) all within range to capture either first or second position in the jungle primary that will be held concurrently with Election Day.

Siena/NYT (9/16-21; 523 GA likely voters; live interview) projects Sen. Loeffler pulling 23% support, with both Rep. Collins and Rev. Warnock posting identical 19% support factors. Data for Progress (9/14-19; 800 GA likely voters) sees Rev. Warnock in first place with 26%, followed closely by Rep. Collins (22%) and Sen. Loeffler (21%). Leaners were added to the original totals for all candidates. Together, the polls tell us that no one can reach 50% on the first vote, and that a tough political dogfight is brewing for the two runoff positions.

Maine: Contrary to opinion that Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) may have blown her re-election chances by immediately moving to postpone the vote on a successor to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Moore Information survey for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (9/20-22; 500 ME likely voters) finds Sen. Collins and state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) tied in their latest poll. Ms. Gideon has been ahead in the race for months, but this survey finds both candidates drawing 42%, apiece. It remains to be seen if this rather surprising trend continues as the SCOTUS replacement process begins in earnest.

South Carolina: The latest Morning Consult survey (9/11-20; 764 SC likely voters; online from pre-determined sampling group) finds Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and former SC Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison in a virtual tie, with the incumbent holding the slimmest of leads, 46-45%. It is clear that Sen. Graham will attempt to use his position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings as a way to improve his standing among Republican voters, a group with which he runs seven points behind President Trump on the party loyalty factor.

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