Trump is competitive in six 2020 swing states despite national weakness, polls say

Key Points
  • Trump is in a strong position to compete for the Electoral College in key battleground states, New York Times/Siena polls show.
  • The surveys found hypothetical matchups pitting Trump against Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are toss-ups about a year ahead of the 2020 election.
  • They show Trump is in a better position in specific states than he is nationally, though Trump's potential 2020 Democratic rivals have fared better in other polls of those states.
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Despite poor showings against his Democratic rivals in national polls, President Donald Trump appears deadlocked with his potential opponents in a handful of pivotal states about a year before the 2020 presidential election, according to new surveys.

In hypothetical races in six states that could decide whether the president wins another term in the White House — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina — Trump mostly trails former Vice President Joe Biden, but fares better against Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, according to New York Times/Siena polls. The surveys signal those states could swing either way: Nearly every lead in the poll falls within the survey's margin of error.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) react during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio.
Win McNamee | Getty Images

Here are the poll results in the potential 2020 races, which the Times separated into registered voter and likely voter samples:

The polls underscore one perception that Trump, buoyed by a strong economy, enters the election year in a strong position to compete in the Electoral College despite a relatively low approval rating. The result comes only a day after an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Biden and Warren leading Trump by 9 and 8 percentage points, respectively, nationwide.

A poll this far from the election can only say so much. Developments in the coming months such as Democratic primary contests, the House impeachment inquiry into Trump and economic trends could shift general election survey results. In addition, Biden, Warren and Sanders appear to be in better position in hypothetical matchups against Trump in those six swing states, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages.

Biden, Warren and Sanders have established themselves as the top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination in the vast majority of national and early state primary polls. The shape of the race could change drastically, though, before the first state nominating contest in Iowa in February.

Biden, considered a more centrist choice than Sanders and Warren, has made his potential to compete against Trump in swing states a core argument for his campaign.

The New York Times/Siena poll surveyed 3,766 registered voters. For five of the individual state polls, the margin of error was plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points. For the Michigan survey, the margin of error was 5.1 percentage points.

Read the full New York Times report on the battleground polls here.

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