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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden increased his national lead over President Donald Trump following last Tuesday’s debates. He now has a comfortable, fourteen-point margin over the president, though Trump is seeing steady gains in key swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday shows a six-point gain for Biden following the debates; he now leads Trump 53% to 39% in national polling.
“Joe Biden’s national lead over President Donald Trump nearly doubled after Tuesday’s presidential debate, with voters saying by a 2-to-1 margin that Biden has the better temperament to be president,” NBC News reported Sunday. “The poll was conducted in the two days after the unruly and insult-filled Sept. 29 debate, but before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 and was hospitalized Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.”
The poll represents Biden’s best national result to date, though the reason national voters preferred the Democrat is clear: they found his temperament more appealing in last Tuesday’s debate, though the debate itself was widely panned across the political spectrum.
“Forty-nine percent of voters say Biden did a better job at Tuesday’s debate, which was marked by insults, interruptions, falsehoods and personal attacks — most, though not all, coming from the president,” NBC News continued. “That’s compared with 24 percent who say Trump had the better performance.”
But if people preferred how Biden handled the situation, it doesn’t necessarily change how they plan to vote in November. A whopping 73% of voters say their November choice is locked in.
National polls, of course, are unreliable in predicting the outcome of an election where the vote goes state-by-state, particularly votes that come in light of a major event like a debate. Experts told NBC News that the debate itself represented a “shock to the system” that may have triggered a temporary spike in interest from certain voters.
In state-by-state polls, USA Today reports, Trump appears to be closing the gap on Biden, particularly in two swing states: Pennsylvania and Florida.
“Forty-seven percent of likely Florida voters and 49% of likely Pennsylvania voters support Biden, while 42% of likely voters in both states support Trump,” the outlet notes. “Saturday’s poll showed a three-percentage-point gain for Trump in Pennsylvania and one-point gain in Florida since a June New York Times/Siena College poll.”
“Both battleground states went to Trump in the 2016 election with a margin of less than 2%, after both states went to former President Barack Obama in 2012. Before 2016, the last time a Republican presidential candidate won Pennsylvania was 1988. The last time a Republican won the White House without Florida was 1924,” USA Today reports.
The weekend’s events, though — particularly President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and subsequent treatment — are likely to have a dramatic effect on polling — an effect which may only become visible later this week. Biden remains largely out of the limelight, appearing only briefly on Saturday.