New USC Panel Poll, Which Showed Trump Leading Throughout 2016, Debuts With Biden Holding 11-Point Lead


Joe Biden, Donald Trump

A key panel survey, which showed Donald Trump leading in the six weeks before the 2016 election, now shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden beating the president by 11 points.

According to the debut of the 2020 version of the USC Dornsife Daybreak poll, the home stretch of this election begins with the challenger holding a substantial, 11-point lead over Trump. (USC did not initially release the poll’s topline numbers.) The USC survey differs from most political polls in that it doesn’t randomly survey different voters but instead tracks the views of the same cohort of voters over time. In addition, the newly-launched 2020 USC survey includes a number of voters who participated in its 2016 tracking poll.

And that continuity offers a number of warning signs for Trump’s re-election.

“Researchers are able to compare their vote for president in 2016 to the candidate they’re supporting in 2020,” USC News reports about the survey. “Early results based on preliminary data, using the probability-based method, show:

Biden holds an 11-point lead over Trump in the national popular vote.

88% of voters who backed Trump in 2016 support him today, while 92% of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 voters support Biden.

Biden has an 11 percentage point edge among voters who backed third-party candidates in 2016, and a 20 percentage point edge among those who did not cast a vote four years ago because they were too young, prevented from voting or chose not to vote that year.

During the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, Trump held a stubbornly slim lead from mid-September all the way to Election Day in the Dornsife survey. “Data from the 2016 USC poll suggested late-breaking support among certain groups that contributed to Donald Trump’s surprise win in the electoral college,” the latest poll write-up pointed out.

The USC survey’s numbers arrive at the high end of the range of other, more traditional political polls. For example, in the days leading up to the Democratic National Convention, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News polls pegged Biden’s lead at 10, 10, and nine points, respectively. Polling average aggregates have the 2020 race as slightly closer at around an eight-point deficit for Trump, currently.

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