Swing State Tracker: A Wee Tightening in the Polls, but Time’s Running Out

Ten. More. Days.

An election worker wearing a mask reaches across the table he's sitting at to drop a ballot in the slot of a ballot box
Early voting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

Welcome to this week’s edition of Swing State Tracker. With Halloween in the offing, would you like to be frightened? Would you like a “jump scare,” but with real-life consequences? Here goes: The race … is … marginally tightening.

Very marginally. Some movers this week: Wisconsin is now slightly tighter than Pennsylvania. We have seen Minnesota reenter the mix too. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien announced Friday that the campaign would resume ad buys in the state after canceling them a few weeks ago, and Vice President Mike Pence is planning to revisit the state next week. Arizona’s a little closer. North Carolina. Florida is Florida-ing hard, settling into its comfy position, rum drink in hand, as the official election troll. In terms of national polling, RealClearPolitics’ average showed Biden leading Trump by 9 points a week ago; now the margin is 7.9 points. FiveThirtyEight’s margin a week ago showed Biden leading by 10.5 points; now he’s leading by 9.8.

This remains, however, the most stable presidential race in recent history, with Trump never coming close to surpassing Biden. Trump is still trailing in the three states he flipped to propel himself to victory in 2016—Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—and still has big problems in Arizona and North Carolina. If he loses Florida, Iowa, or Georgia—all where he’s narrowly trailing—he’s not going to win the election.

With each day that Trump doesn’t substantially narrow his battleground deficits, his prospects dim. Fifty-two million people, as of this writing, have already voted. That’s about a third of the total projected in a high-turnout scenario. And have little doubt: It’s going to be a high-turnout scenario. More than 6 million Texans had already voted as of Friday. That’s 71 percent of Texas’ total 2016 turnout. Other big, growing states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida have also seen more than half of their 2016 totals turn out. Even if Trump can turn the narrative of the race around, something he hasn’t been able to do all year, he’d have fewer remaining voters to work with.

There are 10 days remaining until Election Day.

Each one will suck.

Chart showing which battleground states Trump and Biden need to win
Source: RealClearPolitics polling averages, Oct. 23. Slate