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Bob Mason
Crisis in USA - Shares Fall Graph on United States of America Fl

The Latest Polls

It’s been a good end to the quarter for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, based on the latest FT’s interactive Calculator and polling data.

As we enter the last leg of the Presidential Election race, Joe Biden has seen his margin of victory widen.

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Interestingly, however, there was no movement following the 1st televised presidential election debate on Wednesday.

The Challenger

Over the last week, the FT poll tracker projects Joe Biden to win the U.S Presidential Election with 279 Electoral College votes.

The upswing came off the back of a slide from 280 votes (17th September) to just 255 votes as at 23rd September.

On a week-on-week basis, the latest uptrend was the first since reaching 280 votes as at 17th September.

While the latest forecast continues to fall well short of Biden’s highest projections, it does take him through the 270 votes.

There’s a lot of market concern over a political deadlock that would be likely should neither garner the 270 votes needed to win the election.

For the markets, however, a projected win of 279 is really not enough to calm fears of political deadlock next month.

Trump has also raised the possibility of contesting any outcome over claims that postal votes can be rigged. At what margin Trump would concede is a mystery for now…

If Biden could claw his way back to the 300 plus level that he had enjoyed in early August, it may allay some market angst.

Looking at the breakdown of the votes, however, it becomes even less clear…

As at 30th September, the FT projected Biden to hold 190 solid votes and 89 votes leaning in his favor.

While the total vote count is up, the number of solid votes actually declined from the previous week 203.

As a result, the number of Electoral College votes leaning in Biden’s favor rose from 52 (23rd September) to 89.

This volatility across the leaning votes suggests that more swings are likely to come as Election Day nears.

Incumbent Trump

For the U.S President, the FT projects a haul of 125 Electoral College votes. This is, not only down from a previous week 143, but also a September low 131 votes.

While the fall is bad news, there is some good news. Trump avoided a fall to the most recent low 119 as at 26th August.

While optically these figures can be considered negative, Trump’s solid vote count has held steady at 77. In fact, Trump’s solid vote count has held steady since a projection of 80 as at 26th August.

The general consensus is that Trump voters are far more loyal and less likely to flip flop. Trump’s solid vote count trends certainly suggest this.

Looking at Trump’s leaning voters, however, the FT projects 48 Electoral College votes leaning in Trump’s favor. This is down from 66 as at 23rd September.

Not horrifically alarming except the fact that the 18 vote slide came as a result of losing Ohio to the fence. The last thing that the U.S President needs in the week ahead is for Ohio to lean towards Biden…

The Toss-up States

While the leaning and solid vote projections are key, there are a vast number of fence-sitters this late into the polls…

As at 30th September, the FT has 134 Electoral College votes sitting on the fence, in other words, classified as “Toss-up States”.

One thing to bear in mind is that all 134 of these are going to take a side on the big day.

(“Toss-up States” are states where the difference in poll numbers between Biden and Trump is less than 5 percentage points).

Biden has managed to draw in fence-sitters, while Trump has seen a loss to the middle. Once more, another notch in Biden’s favor.

Looking more closely at the “Toss-up States”, there are 8 fence-sitters, which was down from 9 in the week prior.

Amongst the 8 states, there are a number of significant states that both sides will be targeting.

These include Texas (38 E.C votes), Florida (29 E.C votes), Ohio (18 E.C votes), Georgia (16 E.C votes), N. Carolina (15 E.C votes), and Arizona (11 E.C votes).

Back on 17th September, swing state Ohio had sat on the fence. As at 23rd September, however, Ohio had then leaned in favor of the U.S President before shifting back.

Biden, by contrast, has not only managed to woo back New Hampshire but also clawed back Pennsylvania, which is back to leaning in his favor. Pennsylvania alone accounts for 20 Electoral College votes.

Having briefly enjoyed support from Arizona (11 E.C votes) this will be another target for Biden in the coming weeks.

Key States

If we look at the key U.S states that tend to be election barometers:

Missouri continues to lean in favor of Trump and the Republicans, with Kansas also leaning in Trump’s favor.

For Biden, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oregon remain solid blues. New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are now leaning back in Biden’s favor, which is certainly good news.

So, as things stand, out of the swing states that include Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, Michigan and Pennsylvania lean in Biden’s favor. The rest are on the fence and up for grabs…

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The Road Ahead

For Biden, it remains an election to lose and even more so after the 1st televised debate.

If the FT tracker is anything to go by, Trump’s strategy to interrupt and wrong foot Biden ultimately failed.

There had been concerns that Biden would not be able to take the pressure. On Wednesday, he proved those doubters wrong and stood his ground.

With winter now approaching and a COVID-19 vaccine proving elusive, Biden still looks set to win.

Movements across the global financial markets on Wednesday reflected the markets’ preferred outcome.

This all now sets up a debate between the Number Twos and it will be all eyes on Kamala Harris. For Joe Biden and the Democrats, it could be Harris that delivers enough of a margin for even Trump to concede…

Market volatility kicked in during the debate on Wednesday and will likely become elevated as the big day approaches.

We don’t expect Trump to go down without a fight and that means it will be an interesting few weeks ahead.

As we saw on Wednesday, Trump has no issues in attacking more personal issues, including family…

On 7th October, Pence and Harris go head-to-head before the 2nd presidential debate on 15th October. The 3rd and final presidential debate is scheduled for 22nd October.

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