As the Coronavirus crisis rages and the U.S. death toll approaches 10,000 overall, a new spark of hope has emerged for those seeking to see President Donald Trump leave office soon in the wake of his major stumbling and failures while Americans have suffered. A new University of North Florida poll that’s out this week has former Vice President and likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden ahead of Trump by a full six point margin across the state of Florida overall, and if that margin holds heading into November, it would constitute a dramatic shift from the 2016 election results, when Trump beat Clinton in the state.
Biden, overall, nabbed the support of 46 percent of the respondents in the poll, while Trump claimed just 40 percent. County-level results showed promise too — in Duval County, which includes Jacksonville and which Republicans have won in every single presidential election since 1980, Biden led in the polling by an even larger margin than his overall state lead, nabbing an eight percent lead.
These numbers come after 2018’s Democratic candidate for Florida governor Andrew Gillum won in Duval County after decades of Republican wins in gubernatorial races as well.
Besides the leftover margin in the new Florida poll opting for an option other than active support of the two of them that could swing the final totals, there are at least a couple of important caveats with the numbers. For one, the poll included registered voters as respondents, rather than perceived “likely voters” — although, prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Democratic presidential primary already proved that voters are energized to head to the polls. Turnout in the Virginia state primary alone almost doubled overall compared to 2016 levels, which could spell bad news for a candidate banking on low turnout to eke out narrow margins of victory.
Michael Binder, the director of UNF’s Public Opinion Research Lab, commented:
‘I would exercise caution when looking at these numbers, first these are registered voters — not likely voters; second, the campaign season has screeched to a grinding halt and people are rightly less focused on politics… [Still], something may be changing in Florida ahead of the election.’
The numbers roughly track with those found in other polling ahead of November. On average, Biden leads Trump in national polling by almost six percent, according to RealClearPolitics. It’s been a month and a half since Trump led in a single poll pitting him against Biden that the source has cataloged. In other swing states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, Biden also leads on average — and in Florida, the new University of North Florida poll made the overall average an ever-so-slight lead of less than one percent for Biden.
The Coronavirus has already been weighing on the race. Biden won’t formally be the Democratic presidential nominee until the party’s nominating convention is held, but it’s already been postponed a month, and Biden recently acknowledged that the party may have to shift to some kind of virtual convention format for this year. It’s unclear what form that might take.