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The Upshot on Today’s Polls

Sept. 15, 2020, 7:13 p.m. ET

Sept. 15, 2020, 7:13 p.m. ET

By Nate Cohn

A closer look at polls of Florida and Wisconsin.

State polls
Pollster Margin Diff. from ’16 result
Fla.

Monmouth University

Sept. 10-13, 428 L.V.

Biden +4

50-46

+5D
Fla.

Florida Atlantic University

Sept. 11-12, 631 L.V.

Even

50-50

+1D
Minn.

Morning Consult

Sept. 4-13, 643 L.V.

Biden +4

48-44

+2D
N.C.

CNN/SSRS

Sept. 9-13, 787 L.V.

Biden +3

49-46

+7D
Va.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Aug. 28-Sept. 7, 693 L.V.

Biden +14

53-39

+9D
Wis.

CNN/SSRS

Sept. 9-13, 816 L.V.

Biden +10

52-42

+11D
National polls
U.S.

USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times

Sept. 8-14, 2,873 L.V.

Biden +10

52-42

+8D
U.S.

Léger

Sept. 11-13, 833 L.V.

Biden +6

47-41

+4D
U.S.

Morning Consult

Sept. 11-13, 12,965 L.V.

Biden +8

51-43

+6D

This is around the time when convention bounces start to diminish. It’s still too soon to say whether President Trump’s bounce will fade or endure, but Tuesday was arguably Joe Biden’s best day of state polls since the Republican National Convention.

The best news for Biden in a while in Florida. A poll from Monmouth University showed Mr. Biden up four percentage points among likely voters on average, his best result from a nonpartisan, live interview pollster there in several weeks. He held a wide lead in Florida over the summer, but it has gradually slipped — in part because of a somewhat surprising weakness among Latino voters. The Monmouth poll shows no signs of that weakness today, with Mr. Biden leading by 26 points among Hispanic voters, comparable to Hillary Clinton’s performance four years ago. If Mr. Biden can match Mrs. Clinton among Hispanic voters, he’ll be in a strong position: Polls consistently show Mr. Biden running ahead of Mrs. Clinton among white voters.

Now, gauging the support of Hispanic voters in Florida is not easy. About a third of the state’s Hispanic voters are Cuban, and they are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Miami area — the toughest area of the state to reach in a survey. As a group, those voters lean Republican. But the other two-thirds are heavily Democratic and live across the state. On top of that, Hispanic voters are harder to reach in general. They’re younger and concentrated in urban areas, and many speak Spanish as a first language, which adds further difficulties — and costs — for pollsters.

All that to say: In Florida a lot will hinge on how pollsters can measure a relatively small group of hard-to-reach voters. So interpret any single result among Latino voters with caution, especially in Florida.

Another poll showing Trump trailing badly in Wisconsin. One place where the polls have offered consistently bad news for the president is Wisconsin, where Mr. Biden has held a steady lead. Today, a CNN/SSRS poll added to the consensus by showing Mr. Biden up by 10 points, one of his largest leads there this cycle. The firm also gave Mr. Biden a three-point lead in North Carolina, another result consistent with a clear national advantage for the former vice president. One note of caution: CNN/SSRS polls have tended to tilt to the left compared with the average of polls so far this cycle, as well as in 2018.

Tomorrow, we expect another poll of Wisconsin from ABC News/Washington Post. If it joins the club of high-quality pollsters showing at least a five- or six-point lead for Mr. Biden, that would yield about as clear of a picture as you’re going to get in a battleground state so far from an election.

A stable day nationwide. There weren’t many national polls today, but the handful we did get were largely consistent with their prior results and with a fairly stable race.

Odds and ends Morning Consult had a relatively weak result for Mr. Biden in Minnesota, though there’s plenty of other recent polling there showing Mr. Biden with a wider lead. Florida Atlantic University showed a tied race in Florida, though the firm doesn’t have much of a track record and its methodology is a mixed bag. Virginia Commonwealth University gave Mr. Biden a double-digit lead in Virginia.

Sept. 15, 2020, 7:04 p.m. ET

Sept. 15, 2020, 7:04 p.m. ET

By Nate Cohn

We’re here to help you answer that question.

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times

Simple as it is, “What do the polls say?” is by far the question I’m asked most — by my colleagues, my editors, my friends and family, and by hundreds of you on Twitter. Even if you’re not looking for polls, it can sometimes feel as if the polls find you. More often than not, confusion follows.

That’s why we built this page. Ideally, it’s a place where you can get the state of the race at a glance and the polling news of the day, just about every day.

From now until Election Day, here’s what you can find here:

  • Most days, I’ll summarize the most recent polling. Sometimes, that summary will be “nothing much happened,” and you can go about your day. Other days, I’ll highlight major polls or longer-term trends, or I’ll go on a bit of a methodological digression that might help you make sense of the sometimes arcane world of polling. Or maybe an individual poll result will make enough of a splash to merit a post of its own.

  • You’ll find polling averages of the most competitive states. The goal is to summarize the state of the polls. It’s not a forecast or a prediction. Just because we’re showing you the average of public polls doesn’t mean we’re telling you that they’ll be right. The polls have been wrong before, and they’ll be wrong again.

    But despite their flaws, polls remain the best way to measure attitudes across a huge and diverse country. We might not even be aware that an election is close if we talk only to our like-minded friends and relatives. (For those who want to know more about our polling averages, we published a detailed account of our methodology here.)

  • You’ll also see a table showing what the results might look like if the polls are off by about as much as they were in the last two presidential races. Of course, the polls could be more accurate, less accurate or exactly the same as they were the last two times. And this particular measure — the average error over the final three weeks — is a little unfair to those pollsters, who tended to produce more accurate results over the final week. But it serves as a simple reminder that there’s still a wide range of possible results on Nov. 3.

  • You’ll find information about our polls, conducted in partnership with Siena College. We’ll be polling nearly nonstop between now and the election. We’ll have more to say about our specific plans soon.

And finally, a big thanks to our friends at FiveThirtyEight, who compile polling data, including the set used here, and make it available to the public. And, of course, to the pollsters themselves, who do the hard (and expensive) work of conducting these surveys in the first place.

Produced by Rumsey Taylor

Our poll averages include all polls collected by FiveThirtyEight. The estimates adjust for a variety of factors, including whether a poll represents likely voters, whether other polls have shifted since a poll was conducted, and whether a pollster has leaned toward one candidate in a state or nationwide. Polls are weighted by recency, sample size, and by whether they’re conducted by a firm with a track record of success. More detailshere. Source for polls:FiveThirtyEight polling database.

* In Maine and Nebraska, two electoral votes are apportioned to the winner of the state popular vote, and the rest of the votes are given to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district. (Maine has two congressional districts, and Nebraska has three.)

** Poll error in 2016 is calculated using averages of state polls conducted within three weeks of Election Day.

Updated  Sept. 16, 2020

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