Joe Biden is still favoured to win Tuesday’s presidential election, according to the final opinion polls, but a tightening race in several key states offers Donald Trump rising hopes of a pathway back to the White House.
The Democratic candidate holds a significant lead in national polling, at anywhere between four and 10 percentage points, according to a cluster of polls released on Monday. The poll aggregator fivethirty.eight.com shows Biden with an 8.3-point advantage overall, while Real Clear Politics reflects a lead of 6.5.
But the Republican president is performing better in some of the battleground states he must win to secure a second term.
In Florida, largest of the handful of crucial swing states, Trump has cut Biden’s lead to a single point, according to fivethirtyeight.com. Analysts agree that Trump must retain Florida, which he won from Hillary Clinton by only 1.2 points in 2016, and its 29 electoral college votes if he is to stand any chance of reaching the winning figure of 270.
Florida also offers Biden the cleanest and quickest path to victory. Early votes in the state will be tallied through the day on Tuesday, meaning a declaration is possible before midnight if the race is not too close.
If Biden loses Florida, attention will turn to Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three so-called Blue Wall states that Trump prised from Democratic hands four years ago.
In Pennsylvania, which offers 20 electoral votes, Biden holds an average 4.2-point advantage. In Michigan, with 16 votes, his lead is 5.1 points, and in Wisconsin, which has 10 votes, it is 6.6 points. Victory in all three, plus the retention of states won by Clinton in 2016, would see Biden elected as the 46th president. However, margins of error built into opinion polling mean such races are probably tighter than they appear.
Democrats are also wary as polls released just before the 2016 election showed Clinton with a similar national advantage over Trump. She won the popular vote by more than 3m ballots, but defeat in several battleground states handed the White House to Trump.
On Monday, Trump and Biden spent the final day of campaigning in such vital states. Biden was heading to Pennsylvania for a rally after a stopover in Ohio, where polls show he trails Trump by a sliver. Barack Obama, the former president, was rallying for Biden in Florida. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, was also in Pennsylvania, underlining the state’s importance.
Trump was barnstorming four states in his final push for victory. After a midnight rally in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, the president was heading for North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and two appearances in Michigan.