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Tampa Bay Times polling average: Biden leads final polls

The Democrat carries a lead going into election day.

2020 presidential election

Donald Trump (R) vs. Joe Biden (D)

Update (Nov. 3):

Polls say Joe Biden, the Democrat and former Vice President, is ahead in a close race in Florida.

This year, the Tampa Bay Times collected 55 polls, dating back to March, on who Florida voters want in Tuesday’s presidential election.

Entering today, Biden leads the incumbent, Republican President Donald Trump, by 2.3 points. That’s based on a simple average of 18 pollsters' final polls — all collected since October 1, most in the last two weeks.

That lead is tighter in the five most recent polls — used in the running average we publish every day — that show Biden ahead of Trump by 1.7 points.

Florida is worth 29 votes in the Electoral College, trailing only California and Texas. Trump would have no clear path to reelection without the state. If he wins it, he would also likely need to take other large states where he’s behind by even more, like Pennsylvania and Arizona.

Almost 49 percent of Florida’s likely voters, on average, say they plan on or lean toward voting for Biden, compared to a little more than 46 percent who say they prefer Trump. That leaves about five percent of voters (1 in 20) who would vote for another candidate or hadn’t decided yet when asked by pollsters. (Many of the most recent polls asked undecided voters to pick a preference, even if they weren’t sure.)

Of all likely voters, about 60 percent already had cast their ballots, according to polls from the past week, although the estimates vary widely. The polls also show that the majority of those who already voted did so for Biden, while those who haven’t yet done so plan to vote for Trump. That means today’s in-person turnout will skew Republican. The vote count tonight could shift dramatically from an early Biden lead to a closer race or Trump lead over time.

As in all states, the numbers differ from pollster to pollster. Six of the 18 final polls (Monmouth, Emerson, Quinnipiac, Reuters/Ipsos, NBC/Marist and CNN/SRSS) show Biden up by 4 points or more. Another four polls (Suffolk/USA Today, Susquehanna, InsiderAdvantage and Washington Post/ABC) show Trump ahead, all by 2 points or less.

The typical poll in our set had a margin of error of 4. That means 1 out of 20 times, we would expect such a poll to be off on a particular candidate’s share by 4 points or more. Margins of error are based on how many people the pollster interviews. Statistically, they’re not more likely to miss one way or the other.

Prominent national outlets who model election results also found Biden leading. As of late Monday, the New York Times had Biden ahead in Florida by 2, and CNN had him up by 3. FiveThirtyEight projected Biden would win the state by 2.5 percentage points, and the Economist projected he’d win by 3.2. (That translated to Biden’s probability of winning Florida at 69 percent or 78 percent, respectively.)

In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Florida by 1.2 points, 49 percent to 47.8 percent. Republicans then captured three of the four statewide races in 2018, with Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis each winning by less than half a percentage point.

Polls of Florida that cycle also showed the Democrat ahead in the final stretch, although by a much slimmer margin. FiveThirtyEight modeled a Clinton win by about half a point, with only a 55 percent probability of winning.

A New York Times analysis shows that if polls underestimate Trump just as much as they did in 2016, he would still lose Florida, although it would be close.

Trump winning the state is far from out of the question. But to do so, he needs to outperform his expectations even more than he did last time.

•••

The general election for U.S. President, a contest between incumbent Donald Trump, a Republican, and former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is today. Since Florida’s presidential primary in March, the Tampa Bay Times has collected polls of the nation’s largest swing state.

The chart above shows how Trump and Biden fare in each poll. It also shows for each candidate a simple, moving average of the last five polls, without counting any pollster twice.

We won’t predict a winner, but we do want to help our readers keep up with the state of the race in general. We prefer to use the average of recent polls in our reporting, rather than relying too much on any one survey.

Here is a list of all the polls used in our average:

Tampa Bay Times elections coverage

VOTER GUIDE: Access the Tampa Bay Times' Know Your Candidates guide at tampabay.com/voterguide.

HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT VOTING IN FLORIDA? WE HAVE THE ANSWERS: We’ve compiled information on voter registration deadlines, rules for voting by mail and more.

AMENDMENTS: State constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot, explained.

FELONY CONVICTION? Here are Florida’s rules for registering to vote.

MAIL-IN BALLOTS: So you want to vote by mail in Florida? Here’s what you need to know.

POSTAL SERVICE CONCERNS: What’s going on with the U.S. Postal Service and should Florida be worried?

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