Graphics: Biden leads Trump in battlegrounds, national polls stable
Updated 19:59, 08-Nov-2020
John Goodrich

A race for the White House that has been full of incidents but has seen remarkably little variation in the polls – Joe Biden has led Donald Trump by around 8 points for most of the year – remains within the margin of error in swing states just four days before the final votes of the 2020 U.S. presidential election are cast.

Interactive page: X Factors in the U.S. Election

The candidates kept up a hectic schedule over the past week even as the U.S. recorded a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases, with Biden and Trump hitting the trail in the battlegrounds that will decide the election – the Democrat continuing to speak to small, socially distanced crowds while the Republican addressed mass rallies.

CGTN's interactive page offers in-depth analysis of the 2020 election, with exclusive data covering national and state-by-state polling, online sentiment and fundraising. Each week we crunch the numbers in search of the trends that matter in the battle for the presidency.

November 3 is just a few days away and over 82 million Americans, more than 59 percent of the total turnout in 2016, have already cast their ballots. Has the trajectory of the campaign shifted over the last week?

The national picture

Joe Biden has been ahead of Donald Trump in the national polls throughout the year and, going into the final days of the campaign, CGTN analysis of publicly-available polling indicates little has changed over the past seven days.

The Democrat's national advantage has narrowed by 0.1 percentage points, down to 8.6 points from 8.7 points a week earlier. 

While the national polls are only indicative of a general trend, given the winner of the election is determined state by state, both the scale and consistency of Biden's leads over Trump are considerably greater than those held by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

In the generic ballot, a measure of which party voters intend to back in congressional elections, Democrats are leading the Republicans by 8.4 points in the RealClearPolitics average, up sharply from 6.6 a week earlier after a string of high-quality polls indicated double-digit leads.

Senate battles that could make or break the next president

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The lead reinforces the expectation that the Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives, but the battle for an all-important majority in the Senate remains tight.

The Democrats need a net gain of four from the 35 Senate seats contested in 2020 to guarantee a majority, and around 12 of the 23 seats the Republicans are defending are competitive races.

The states that matter

The winner of the presidential election will be determined by the Electoral College, so while Biden is heavily favored to win the national vote that won't matter if Trump stacks up victories in the battleground states.

In 2016, the national polling result was essentially accurate but state polling – and the campaigns' internal polling – in the critical Midwestern swing states missed the mark. In 2020, most pollsters have adapted their models, though whether the changes have been successful will not be clear until after the votes are counted.


Polls are not predictive and have a wide margin of error, but a CGTN analysis of state surveys indicates Biden maintains leads over Trump in all the key battlegrounds – including the two most likely tipping point states, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Vote-counting could be completed on election night in Florida, where Biden leads by 2.9 points in the polling averages, down from 3.2 a week earlier. If the Democrat takes the state's 29 electoral votes, he'll have multiple routes to the 270 needed to win the White House.

Final results aren't expected on election night in Pennsylvania, where the polling averages put Biden up 6 points, down from 6.6 points a week earlier.

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

The Biden-Harris ticket has been on the attack in the past week, campaigning in the traditional Republican strongholds of Georgia – where Biden has increased his average polling lead in the past week – and Texas – where Trump is ahead by just 0.2 points.

Biden has extended his leads in Wisconsin and Michigan, moved ahead in Iowa and closed in on Trump in Ohio over the past seven days, while Trump has narrowed the gap in North Carolina.


Polls only provide a snapshot in time and have a significant margin of error, but the state-by-state surveys suggest that if the election were held today Biden could be on course to win 361 Electoral College votes to Trump's 177.

Twitter sentiment

CGTN is using exclusive AI technology to weigh sentiment towards tweets related to the election, updating every 24 hours to reflect whether comments about Trump and Biden are positive, negative or neutral.

Sentiment towards the candidates revealed an uptick in positivity over the past seven days, with positive tweets related to Trump averaging 10.7 percent of the total and negative tweets accounting for 12.4 percent on a daily basis – a much better result for the president than in previous weeks. Tweets related to Biden were a net positive 7.4, with 10.3 percent positive by daily average and 2.9 percent negative. 

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

It's been another tumultuous week on Twitter for Trump supporters, with the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection having his account locked for violating hate speech policies and the social media platform warning that one of the president's tweets about mail-in voting could be "misleading."

The bosses of the Big Tech titans – Twitter, Facebook and Google – also appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee nominally to defend their legal liability shield, but in practice facing accusations from Republicans that the platforms are biased against conservative voices.

Money talks

Final fundraising figures won't be reported until mid-November, but the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) projected this week that the election will be the most expensive in U.S. history.

The CRP expects the final tally for the presidential and congressional races combined to be nearly $14 billion, double the total in 2016, with the battle for the White House accounting for around $6.6 billion and eight of the 10 most expensive Senate races ever taking place this cycle.

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

CGTN's X Factors in the U.S. Election

Biden has raised $937.7 million, according to the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) data, and is on course to be the first presidential candidate ever to surpass the $1-billion mark in a single campaign.

Donations worth over $100 million from California alone have landed in the Democrat's coffers, with stars from George Clooney and Amy Schumer to the cast of The Avengers movies holding fundraisers on his behalf.

The latest FEC data shows the Trump campaign has raised $595.9 million directly but, like Biden, the president has been boosted by big-spending outside groups.


Scan the QR code in the video above to check out CGTN's U.S. election interactive special for exclusive data as well as the latest news, explainers, cartoons and analysis.