Donald Trump’s chances of winning next week’s election appeared to narrow on Wednesday, as a series of polls showed the US president losing ground in several critical swing states where coronavirus cases are surging.
With less than a week to go until the presidential election, Mr Trump continued his cross-country tour on Wednesday, visiting Nevada before a planned stop in Arizona. He made campaign stops in Wisconsin and Michigan on Tuesday, both key swing states where he has dropped in the polls as coronavirus cases rise.
In Wisconsin, a poll released on Wednesday by Langer Research for ABC News and The Washington Post showed Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s Democratic challenger, ahead by 17 points, helping to push his average lead as measured by Real Clear Politics to 6.4 points. In Michigan, the same pollster found a 7 point lead, and two other pollsters showed Mr Biden ahead by double digits.
In both states, Mr Biden’s lead has more than doubled since the end of August, when coronavirus cases started to spike in the lead-up to what some public health officials have described as the beginning of a winter wave.
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Gary Langer, the founder of Langer Research, said: “Worry about the coronavirus is a strong independent predictor of votes for Joe Biden in this election. The challenge for the Trump campaign right now is that, rather than 20- 30- 40,000 a day, we have 70,000 plus cases a day, as well as rising hospitalisation rates, shortages of intensive care beds and rising death rates.”
In Iowa, a Midwestern state that had not been considered competitive at the start of the race, a poll this week for a local broadcaster by RABA Research showed Mr Biden ahead by 4 points, a 2 point improvement on the survey it conducted in September. Mr Biden plans to visit Iowa, which Mr Trump won by more than 9 points in 2016, on Friday.
The Midwest, much of which Mr Trump won from the Democrats in 2016, has been badly hit in the latest wave of coronavirus cases. Ten out of 12 states in the region are now experiencing record high seven-day average case rates, while nine have reported their highest level of hospitalisations in the past week.
While Mr Trump complains that high case numbers are caused by more testing, public health experts point out that the positive tests as a percentage of overall tests — and hospitalisations — are also rising. In Wisconsin, the positivity rate is now 28 per cent, while in Iowa it is 26.4 per cent, according to the Covid Exit Strategy website.
Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said: “We have not seen these positivity rates before in the entire pandemic, and that is before Europe’s second wave has reached our shores. This is looking very serious.”
Meanwhile, Mr Trump has continued to attack the media for paying too much attention to coronavirus during packed rallies where many of his supporters have not been wearing masks or practising social distancing.
He told supporters in Michigan on Tuesday night: “Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid cases — do you ever notice they use the word ‘cases’?”
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