Inside the nine swing states the 2020 presidential election hinges on

Nationally, Biden holds a 7.8 percent lead over Trump, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, but in the battleground states that will decide the Electoral College results, his lead is much less secure.

State-level polls, which were wildly off base in 2016, remain suspect: Republicans — and many Democrats — believe that Trump’s voters are refusing to take part in them, or to signal their true intentions if they do.

“This race is far closer than some of the punditry . . . would suggest,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said recently. “In a number of critical swing states we are fundamentally tied.”

Here’s a look at the nine battlegrounds that could hand the White House to the Democrats — or give President Trump a second term.

Current poll average: Biden 47% / Trump 47%

In 2016, Trump won Arizona by 91,000 votes, a relatively comfortable 3.6 percent margin. But the formerly deep-red Grand Canyon State has been slowly adding Democratic voters, giving Democrats hopes for a flip in a state that hasn’t gone blue since 1996.

Republicans think they have a secret weapon: 145,000 conservatives who sat out the 2016 presidential contest.

In 2016, 75,000 Arizonans in heavily evangelical, Catholic and Mormon districts cast ballots — but left the presidential line blank. “These were right-leaning voters who did not trust Donald Trump,” GOP strategist Sean Noble said.

Additional Trump-skeptic conservatives gave the Libertarian Party 70,000 more votes in 2016 than it typically receives.

“The judiciary is huge for these voters,” Noble explained. “Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court may win them over.”

Current poll average: Biden 50% / Trump 44%

Late deciders gave Trump the edge in his 23,000-vote Wisconsin win in 2016 — but this year, there are fewer of them to be swayed.

At least 10 percent of Wisconsin’s electorate remained on the fence as Election Day neared in 2016. Two weeks before the election, up to 40 percent of them planned to leave the presidential line blank, Democratic consultant Paul Maslin found at the time.

“In the last week, those people made the judgment to go with the new guy who represented change,” Maslin said.

This year, Wisconsinites “have made a judgment against this incumbent,” Maslin said. “I don’t see the dynamic by which all of a sudden those people change their minds.”

In an Oct. 28 Marquette Law School poll, 6 percent of Wisconsin voters refused to divulge a presidential preference — and Biden, with 48 percent of the vote, had a 5-point lead over Trump.

Current poll average: Biden 48% / Trump 43%

Minnesota, the least-polled swing state in the nation, is the election’s biggest question mark.

“No Republican has won a statewide race in Minnesota since 2006,” said John Hinderaker of the Center of the American Experiment, a local think tank.

But every recent survey has found a pool of 10 to 13 percent of voters claiming to be undecided, making it a tantalizing GOP target.

Trump lost Minnesota by 1.5 percent — about 45,000 votes — in 2016. Now he’s running as the law-and-order candidate in the state where the George Floyd unrest, which caused at least $500 million worth of damage here, began.

“It’s hard to believe that so many people haven’t made a choice about this election,” Hinderaker said. “I think most of these ‘undecideds’ are Trump voters who just won’t say so.”

Current poll average: Biden 49% / Trump 45%

“This should be a layup for Biden,” said GOP strategist Sean Noble. “A state that Hillary Clinton won by more than 2 percent should not be at risk for him.”

Trump lost Nevada by more than 27,000 votes in 2016. Yet the latest statewide poll found a neck-and-neck race, with independent voters breaking Trump’s way.

Coronavirus is a major factor. The pandemic stifled Democrat-affiliated union organizing at casinos and resorts, where much of the workforce remains sidelined.

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign has been knocking on voters’ doors for months. The president has held three raucous rallies in rural parts of the state where Republicans dominate — and where many voters blame Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, not Trump, for COVID-related economic woes.

“Trump may have the better ground operation in 2020, but the virtual campaign may be more important now,” Democratic strategist Brad Bannon said. “We’ll see.”

Current poll average: Biden 50% / Trump 44%

When Trump won Michigan in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes, Democrats blamed Clinton’s loss on her failure to motivate the black voters who rallied in huge numbers for Barack Obama. Turnout in urban centers like Detroit, Saginaw and Flint dropped by 12 percent when Obama’s name came off the ballot.

“Biden needs to get Obama levels of African-American turnout,” said Ron Fournier, a Detroit-based Democratic strategist who foresaw Trump’s surprise 2016 Michigan victory. “Whether they will actually vote is an open question.”

Another unknown is the effect of Trump’s outreach efforts. An Oct. 16 Marist poll found that 18 percent of black voters nationally backed him — a sharp increase over the 8 percent he won in 2016.

In a state that was decided by a margin of only 0.2 percent, slimmer than any other, the slightest shift could tip the balance.

Current poll average: Biden 53% / Trump 43%

Trump lost New Hampshire by just 2,700 votes in 2016, a tiny 0.3 percent margin, after independents — who outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in the Granite State — split their vote down the middle.

This year, unaffiliated voters nationally are breaking for Biden by an 8-point margin, according to the Oct. 28 IBD/TIPP poll. The trend is far more pronounced in New Hampshire: independents in an Oct. 13 UNH survey favored Biden by 27 percent.

“I think Trump is done in New Hampshire,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. Biden’s lead there in the RealClearPolitics polling average is three points greater than Clinton’s was at this point in 2016.

But the president is still battling. He sent both son Eric Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to campaign in New Hampshire in recent weeks, and visited Manchester himself on Oct. 25.

Current poll average: Biden 48% / Trump 48%

Trump bested Clinton by more than 173,000 votes, or 3.6 percent, in 2016 — and overperformed his pre-election polling average. Polls in late October of 2016 forecast a 3-point Democratic win in North Carolina.

Since then, the GOP has added more voters to the rolls than the Democrats have, netting almost 84,000 Republicans between March and September of this year. Democrats gained less than half that number.

New recruits are often more eager than others to turn out and vote — and here, too, Trump has an advantage. An Oct. 20 ABC News/Washington Post poll of North Carolina found a 15-point intensity gap in the president’s favor, with 74 percent of his voters “very enthusiastic” about supporting him. On Wednesday, 20,000 of those fans turned out for a rally in a suburb of Charlotte, NC.

“Since 1984, the candidate with more enthusiasm wins,” O’Connell said. “We’ll just have to see if hate is as much of a driver.”

Current poll average: Biden 50% / Trump 46%

Trump’s declining favorability with seniors, who make up 18 percent of the Keystone State’s electorate, could doom him in Pennsylvania, which he won by less than one percentage point in 2016.

“Seniors more than anyone else are worried about the pandemic,” Bannon said. “Biden is leading with seniors, as Clinton never did” — by 9 percentage points among over-65 Pennsylvanians, an Oct. 15 Morning Consult poll found. Watch the Pittsburgh suburb of Westmoreland County, where Democrats and Republicans are equally divided but 22 percent of voters are seniors, for evidence of their power.

Statewide, though, the GOP has measurable momentum. Trump’s 44,000-vote win in 2016 fueled a four-year voter registration drive that has shaved at least 136,000 voters off the Democrats’ numerical advantage.

Current poll average: Biden 48% / Trump 47%

The president won the Sunshine State by 113,000 votes, a 1.2 percent margin, in 2016. To hold it, he’s made eight campaign stops there since September.

While Florida Republicans have out-registered the Democrats in the past four years, the 2020 race will be decided by a growing cohort of Latino voters.

“Many are first- and second-generation Americans who escaped socialist or communist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela,” said Republican consultant Ford O’Connell. “When Trump talks about fighting socialism, he’s talking to them.”

They seem to be listening. The St. Pete poll of Oct. 22 pegged Trump’s support among Hispanic Floridians at 47 percent.

“State polls in Florida typically overestimate Democrats by two points,” O’Connell said — or more. Three days before the 2016 election, Clinton was thought to be ahead in Florida by the same 1.2 percent margin that Trump ultimately won it by. “Trump will eke this out.”

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