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CNN poll puts election between Biden and Trump closer than most

While the numbers still show Biden in the lead, he might not be as ahead in the swing states that will determine the election

Barron Trump, US President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump walk on the South Lawn of the White House on August 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Robert Trump, 71, the younger brother of the president, died Saturday in Manhattan. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

While most national polling shows Joe Biden comfortably ahead of Donald Trump at this point in the 2020 Presidential election campaign, a recent poll from CNN might be cause for concern for the former Vice President.

The CNN survey, conducted via telephone by SSRS Polling, shows Biden still leading Trump but with a margin of just 50%-46%. That’s far behind other major polls released on Sunday that had Biden ahead by 9-10 points in a national sample of registered voters.

The sample was taken after Kamala Harris was named as Biden’s Vice Presidential nominee, and was taken from August 12-15. It is well behind where Biden was on June 5th in the previous CNN/SSRS survey which had Biden ahead 55%-41%.

The poll also had Donald Trump’s job approval number a bit higher than most, with 42% approving of the job he’s doing so far and 54% disapproving. That’s a bit stronger for the 45th President than others that show him at 40% or less.

The survey also includes an oversample of voters from 15 “battleground” states as determined by SSRS, which are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. In those states, Biden leads just 49%-48%. And among those swing state voters, Trump’s job approval rating is even better at 47% approve and 51% disapprove.

It shows the concept of “wasted votes” is more likely to hurt Democrats in the fall, as the margins that Biden will win states such as New York and California by won’t be helpful in the electoral college. Hillary Clinton actually defeated Donald Trump by just shy of three million votes in 2016, but since a federal election is actually 50 unequally-weighted state elections, Trump was able to gain the White House.

As far as how this poll will move the election, Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight.com team had Biden with an 8.6% national lead before this poll was released, and now with an 8.0% lead after. Is it one poll an outlier, or more telling of what’s actually happening? We’ll have to wait for more data from other sources to know for sure.

And keep in mind there’s only one poll that matters, and that one wraps up just 78 days from now on November 3rd.