US starts voting, as opinion polls predict a tight presidential race

A majority of the mainstream media, however, said Trump has an uphill task to win the elections, as he continues to trail in polls in key states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin

Trump vs Biden
In the election, incumbent Republican Donald Trump is challenged by Democrat Joe Biden.

As the United States started voting for the presidential election on Tuesday (November 3), latest opinion polls predict a tight finish between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden with the margin shrinking in key battle ground states.

President Donald Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden who reached his hometown of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, was greeted with placards of “Scranton loves Joe”. Biden spoke about “restoring decency to the White House” at a small event there.

Biden, who is expected to spend the night at his residence in Wilmington, Delaware is expected to address the nation from there later in the evening.

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Confident of a win, President Donald Trump told Fox News that he will get at least 306 electoral votes.

“We feel very good…I think we’ll have victory,” Trump told Fox News.

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The electorate is strongly divided amid fears that Trump could dispute election results if it does not go in his favour.

All opinion polls have given Biden, 77, the lead. Biden has been calling for a new leadership for a country ravaged by the COVID pandemic, which has left 2,31,000 people dead in the US.

“I have a feeling we’re coming together for a big win tomorrow,” Biden said in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an important electoral battleground. “It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy.”

According to Real Clear Politics, which works out an average of major opinion polls, the 77-year-old Biden was ahead by 2.9 percentage points, which comes within the margin of error, over Trump in key battle ground states.

Nationally, Trump, as per Real Clear Politics, on an average, is trailing by 6.5 percentage points against Biden.

Till a few days ago, Biden’s lead was around eight percentage points. On Monday (November 2), both the Trump and Biden campaigns exuded confidence of winning the race on Tuesday night.

A CNN Poll of Polls as on Monday gave Biden 10-point lead with 52% to 42%. However, it said, “It is important to remember that in the US, the President is elected by the electoral college, not by the popular vote, and national polls can only approximate the popular vote.”

As per YouGov America’s final poll, Biden is leading Trump by nine points in popular vote with the Democrat at 53.2% and the President at 44.3%. This would convert to 364-174 in electoral college in favour of Biden. The key tally for a victory is 270.

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“Our election model is updated weekly and based upon 99,049 interviews, updated with 1,401 new interviews in the past 24 hours. It represents YouGov’s best assessment of the current state of the race,” it said.

A majority of the mainstream media, however, said Trump has an uphill task to win the elections, as he continues to trail in polls in key states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin. A few outlets said that Texas, which has traditionally remained a GOP bastion is also in play this year, news agency PTI reported from Washington.

Trump supporters argue that polls do not reflect the ground realities and, like the 2016, the President would win the election with much stronger mandate.

Nate Silver from the important fivethirtyeight.com said that Trump has about 10% chance of winning the elections. It said Biden is “clearly favoured” to win.

“As in 2016, Trump could potentially benefit from the Electoral College. Projected margins in the tipping-point states are considerably tighter than the margins in the national popular vote. More specifically, Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania — the most likely tipping-point state, according to our forecast — is solid but not spectacular: about 5 points in our polling average,” Silver wrote.

Silver said that if Biden wins the popular vote by 2 to 3 percentage points, the Electoral College is roughly a toss-up. But if Biden wins the popular vote by less than 2 points, Trump is a fairly heavy favourite to win the election, he wrote.

“Even popular vote margins of up to 6 points are not entirely safe for Biden if his votes are distributed in exactly the wrong way. So you can see why an 8- or 9-point lead in the popular vote shouldn’t make Biden feel that secure; despite being a landslide margin, it’s also only a few points removed from the inflection point where the Electoral College starts to become competitive,” he argued.

According to The New York Times, if the polls are right, Biden could post the most decisive victory in a presidential election in three and a half decades, surpassing Bill Clinton’s win in 1996. “That’s a big “if.”,” it said.

“The indelible memory of 2016’s polling misfire, when Donald J. Trump trailed in virtually every pre-election poll and yet swept the battleground states and won the Electoral College, has hovered over the 2020 campaign. Mr. Biden’s unusually persistent lead has done little to dispel questions about whether the polls could be off again,” said the daily.

“President Trump needs a very large polling error to have a hope of winning the White House. Joe Biden would win even if polls were off by as much as they were in 2016,” it said.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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