The final USC Dornsife Daybreak Poll before the general election shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a 10-point national lead over President Donald Trump.
“For me, the big news here is no news,” said Bob Shrum, director of the Center for the Political Future at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The race remains remarkably stable, and if all the ballots are received and actually counted, Joe Biden is likely to win the popular vote by 9 to 11 points.”
Biden’s margin has narrowed slightly since the days after the first debate, when he held a 13-point lead over Trump.
While the respected poll shows a big national lead for the Democratic candidate, it does not provide an estimate of the state-by-state electoral vote total, which will decide the election.
In 2016, the USC poll showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with a 2-pont lead over Trump. Clinton won the popular vote by that margin, but lost the electoral vote when Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by narrow margins.
The final 2020 poll was conducted online Oct. 20–31 by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research. Participants are members of the center’s Understanding America Study panel. The poll’s margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2–3 percentage points.
The USC team said Biden is benefiting from the support of some key demographic groups that were more likely to vote for Trump in 2016 than his Democratic opponent, including seniors, rural voters and those without college degrees.
The president has also lost ground among men, whites and “other” voters, mainly Asian American and Native American. White women, who voted for Trump over Clinton by 9 percentage points in 2016, are currently giving Biden a 2 percentage point edge.
“I’m particularly struck by what I would now call the hidden Biden voters — the non-college-educated women who are voting in greater numbers for Biden than we would have expected based on the 2016 results,” said Shrum.
Among early voters, Biden has a 2–1 lead, which is attributable to the higher proportion of Democrats casting their votes before Election Day.
“If Biden’s 2-to-1 lead in our poll holds among early voters, Trump would need a much wider lead among those who vote in person on Election Day than he holds now to win the popular vote,” said Jill Darling, survey director of the Daybreak Poll. “The stakes are high regarding whether all mail-in votes will be counted, and whether voters will show up at the polls and be able to cast their votes.”