Less than weeks before Election Day, Joe Biden appears well-positioned to finish the job that Democrats above all hired him to do: Rebuild the party’s blue wall in the Rust Belt.
Biden’s principal asset in the 2020 Democratic primaries was the widespread sense among party voters that he was best qualified among the contenders to win back the defecting White voters, especially those without college degrees, who allowed Donald Trump to capture Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016 — and with them the presidency.
Now, a wide array of public polls consistently shows Biden leading in all three states, defending Minnesota (which Trump has targeted) and running almost step for step with the President in Ohio and Iowa, two Rust Belt states Trump won more easily last time.
With remarkable consistency across these states, polls show Biden benefiting from similar dynamics, as he attracts a solid majority of around 55% or more of college-educated White voters; a preponderant majority of around four-fifths of African Americans; and about two-fifths of Whites without college degrees, a number, that while modest, represents a clear improvement over Hillary Clinton’s anemic showing with them in 2016.
If Biden holds all of the 20 states Clinton won in 2016 and regains Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, he will win — whether or not he captures any of his targets across the Sun Belt, or for that matter, Ohio or Iowa.
“He’s settled in at a level that makes him formidable in terms of creating an Electoral College bloc that includes for sure Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, but also Minnesota, while competing readily for Ohio and Iowa,” says veteran Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg. Unless Trump can reverse Biden’s advantages in the key Rust Belt battlegrounds, Greenberg argues, the former vice president “has locked up the presidency. … You have an impossible Electoral College advantage with the states he’s ahead of in the Rust Belt.”
Trump stunned Democrats in 2016 when he captured Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, despite trailing in the polls then too, behind an unexpected surge of turnout from his core group of non-college-educated Whites, especially those in small-town and rural communities.
Apart from Michigan, where Trump’s relentless attacks on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during the coronavirus pandemic have weakened his position, few in either party rule out the possibility of Trump surprising again in the Rust Belt, even if polls are more favorable for Biden now than Clinton then.
Read the full analysis here.