The presidential election comes down to these 12 states
Chief political anchor and 'Special Report' host Bret Baier maps out the scenarios on the big board
“We are going to win four more years in the White House,” President Trump told supporters at a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday. “We’re winning. We are winning again.”
The numbers currently don’t appear to add up as well for the president. A new Fox News poll conducted Tuesday through Thursday, and released on Friday evening, showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading the president 52% to 44% among likely voters nationwide.
And an average of the Fox News poll and other latest national surveys indicate Trump trailing Biden by roughly 8 points. That’s a bigger deficit than he faced against 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at this time in the presidential election four years ago.
At the time, with just days ahead of the 2016 election, Clinton’s sizeable lead from just a couple of weeks earlier had diminished to just a 1.5-point edge over Trump. On the eve of the election, Clinton held a 3.2-point advantage over Trump, according to an average compiled by Real Clear Politics. Clinton ended up winning the national popular vote by 2 points.
But it’s the states and their electoral votes that decide who wins the White House -- and thanks to victories in six key battleground states that he flipped from blue to red, Trump trounced Clinton in the Electoral College vote.
Fast-forward four years and Biden has the slight edge in many of the key battlegrounds, according to an average of the most recent public opinion surveys.
But Trump still has an avenue to victory.
While the national polls were relatively close to the mark in 2016, surveys in many of the key battlegrounds appeared to under-sample Trump supporters, and Trump narrowly won three states -- Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- where an average of the final polls indicated Clinton on top. And he outperformed the polls in a couple of other battlegrounds.
The question now is whether the current surveys are counting the broad swath of voters they missed four years ago. And separate from the polls, Republican voter registration is up in several key states, including Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The president and the Trump campaign have repeatedly discounted public opinion surveys and say that their internal numbers paint a different picture.
Biden, campaigning Monday in Pennsylvania, emphasized that he’s “not overconfident about anything. I want to make sure that we turn out every vote possible.”
Biden -- who was born and spent his first decade in Scranton, Pa. -- said that “with the grace of God and goodwill, I’m going to win Pennsylvania. It matters a great deal to me, personally and politically.”
“I think we’re going to win Michigan, I think we’re going to win Wisconsin, I think we’re going to win Minnesota. I think we have a fighting chance in Ohio, I think we have fighting chance in North Carolina, a fighting chance in Georgia, a fighting chance in Iowa,” he added.
Here's a look at the 12 states that will likely decide who wins the presidential election
With 29 electoral votes up for grabs, Florida is the largest of the traditional battlegrounds.
Twenty years ago, it was the state that decided the presidential election between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. President Bush won the state by five points in his 2004 reelection.
President Barack Obama carried the state by razor-thin margins in both 2008 and 2012. But four years ago, Trump narrowly edged out 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 1.2 points to flip the state from blue to red.
An average of the most recent polling in the state shows Biden holding a slight lower-single-digit edge over the president.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Biden and Trump held dueling rallies in the Sunshine State on Thursday. Many political analysts and pundits say that Florida’s a must-win state for the president.
Biden told his supporters in the state that “you hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over, it’s over.”
Arizona has long backed Republicans in presidential elections.
President Bill Clinton in 1996 was the only Democratic candidate to win the state since 1952. But Trump carried the state by just 3 points four years ago. An average of the most recent public opinion polls in Arizona indicates Biden and the president basically tied in the battle for the state’s 11 electoral votes.
President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
As with Florida, the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be doing him no favors with the state’s crucial senior voters.
North Carolina’s seeing plenty of candidate traffic, and its airwaves are being flooded with ads.
Then-Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 by a razor-thin margin over Sen. John McCain. Four years later, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won the state’s 15 electoral votes by roughly 2 percentage points over President Obama.
Polls on the eve of the 2016 presidential election indicated Trump with a 0.8% edge over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump ended up winning the state by 3.6 points.
Fast forward four years and Biden currently has a razor-thin edge over the president in an average of the most recent polls.
Four years ago Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to win Pennsylvania since George H.W. Bush in 1988. Trump carried the state by less than 1 percent over Clinton, to capture Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.
But the Biden campaign has heavily concentrated on Pennsylvania, which is the former vice president’s native state. And during his nearly four decades in the Senate representing Delaware, Biden was known as Pennsylvania’s third senator.
An average of the most recent public opinion polls in Pennsylvania indicates Biden with a mid-single-digit advantage over the president.
Trump returns to the Keystone State on Saturday and Monday, with Biden stopping there on Sunday and the former vice president, running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, and their spouses fanning out across the state all day on the eve of the election.
Like Pennsylvania, Trump in 2016 broke the Democrats' quarter-century winning streak in Wisconsin with a narrow victory over Clinton.
But as is the case in Pennsylvania, Trump is underperforming with key constituencies, including suburban voters. Also working against the president – the coronavirus – which has hit Wisconsin particularly hard.
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
An average of the most recent public opinion polls in Wisconsin indicates Biden with a mid-single-digit lead over the president in the battle for the state’s 10 electoral votes.
Ohio has long played a crucial role in presidential elections. It was the state that famously put President George W. Bush over the top in 2004, as he won a second term in the White House.
Obama narrowly carried the state in 2008 and 2012. Four years ago, it appeared it would be another close contest, with an average of the polls on the eve of the election indicating Trump narrowly ahead of Clinton. But Trump ended up swamping Clinton by eight points, flipping the state from blue to red and winning Ohio’s 18 electoral votes.
Trump’s margin of victory was the largest by any presidential candidate in nearly three decades. Fast forward four years and Ohio – at the beginning of this presidential cycle -- wasn’t expected to be a battleground.
But the race has tightened and both campaigns are heavily investing in the Buckeye State. An average of the latest polls indicates the race is basically all tied up in Ohio.
Obama carried Iowa by six points in the 2012 election, but Trump flipped the Hawkeye State four years ago, topping Clinton by nine points, even though the final surveys suggested a much closer margin.
As with Ohio, it wasn't on the battleground radar a year ago.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Biden is holding rallies today in Des Moines, Iowa, Saint Paul, Minn., and Milwaukee, Wis. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
But Iowa's very much in the spotlight now, with an average of the latest public opinion surveys in the state indicating Biden with a razor-thin edge over the present.
Southerner Bill Clinton in 1992 was the last Democrat to carry Georgia in a presidential election.
Long a red state, Georgia tightened in the 2016 election when Trump captured the state’s 16 electoral votes by just 5 points. The president, apparently playing some defense, recently campaigned in the state and returns on Sunday. Biden made his first general election trip to the state this week.
An average of the last public opinion surveys in Georgia suggests Biden with a razor-thin edge over Trump.
Democrats carried Michigan for a quarter-century in presidential elections until Trump won the state by a tight margin four years ago.
But the president's support among White working-class voters doesn't appear to be matching the 2016 levels and Black turnout, which was down four years ago, appears to be re-energized.
An average of the most recent public opinion polls in Michigan indicates Biden with an upper-single-digit lead over the president in the battle for the state's 16 electoral votes.
Biden teams up in-person with his one-time boss, former President Obama, for two stops in Michigan on Saturday.
On Election Eve in 2016, the president’s last rally was past midnight in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In what appears to be a hope to repeat history, the Trump campaign says that the president’s last stop on Election 2020 will once again be Grand Rapids, Michigan.
President George W. Bush in 2004 was the last GOP standard-bearer to win Nevada. But Clinton narrowly edged Trump by just 2 points four years ago and Trump’s been eyeing to flip the Silver State from blue to red.
Both campaigns have invested time, money and resources in the state in the battle for its 6 electoral votes. An average of the latest polls indicates Biden holding a mid-single-digit advantage.
President Richard Nixon was the last Republican to win the state – during his 1972 landslide re-election.
But four years ago Trump narrowly lost Minnesota and its 10 electoral votes to Clinton, and for over a year the president and his re-election campaign have been eyeing the state in hopes of breaking the losing streak and flipping it from blue to red.
An average of the latest public opinion polls in the state indicate the former vice president with a mid-single-digit advantage over Trump, but the surveys suggest that Trump’s gained ground over the past month.
The presidential nominees held dueling rallies in Minnesota on Friday.
But the longtime ruby-red state has become more competitive in recent years.
Trump won Texas and its whopping 38 electoral votes by nine points in the 2016 election, down from Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s 16-point win over President Obama in the state in 2012.
The Cook Report, a leading nonpartisan political handicapper, this week changed its rating of the state from Lean Republican to Toss Up. The most recent polls indicate Trump with a slight edge over Biden that's within the margin of error.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris made three stops in the Lone Star State on Friday.