Time running out to change the presidential race

ORLANDO, Fla. — With the presidential election just three weeks away, time is running out for either campaign to substantially change the direction of what has been a remarkably stable race throughout the year.

“There is just not a lot of movement in the numbers,” says Dr. Kevin Wagner, a professor of political science at FAU.  “It is remarkably steady the race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. There has been some movement, and while our poll has Joe Biden outside the margin of error, it is still quite close.”

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On Tuesday, FAU released its Florida poll showing Joe Biden at 51% and Donald Trump at 47%, with 8% of voters saying they were either undecided or might change their vote in the final weeks.

The President’s polling in Florida is slightly ahead of his approval rating, which came in at 44% in the FAU poll.

“The approval rating tends to track with support for the president in other words people who approve of him will also vote for him,” says Wagner.

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With 21-days to go, the Real Clear Politics average of Florida polls has Biden at +3.7 a mark that is just slightly better than where Hillary Clinton was in 2016 with 21-days to go when she led Donald Trump by 3.6 in the RCP average.

There are, however, some important differences in 2020 compared to 2016.  On October 7, 2016 the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released, causing an erosion in then-candidate Donald Trump’s polling numbers.  At about the same time, WikiLeaks began its release of hacked DNC emails related to Hillary Clinton.  So far in 2020, comparable events have not occurred.

Also in 2016, Donald Trump led the RCP average three times between June 1 and the election, however, neither he nor Clinton ever got above 50% in the average.  So far in 2020 Biden had led in the average every day since June 1, twice pulling above the 50% average.

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The stability, according to polling experts, can be attributed to the absence of significant third party candidates and a low percentage of undecided voters.

“Poll after poll continues to show undecideds in the low single digits including in our poll where it’s at 3%,” Mike Binder, the Director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida. “Typically it’s closer to 10-points, even in 2016, a week before the election we were at 8 or 9 undecided, right now we are at three.”