ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Flip a coin and you might just find out whether President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the battleground state of Florida.
Is the race that close? Perhaps so. Recent polls suggest the Republican incumbent and former vice president are neck and neck in the Sunshine State. While both men say they don't put too much stock into polling data, their visits say otherwise.
The latest Real Clear Politics spread of polling data shows Biden is up 1.4 points ahead of Trump in Florida, 48.2 percent vs. 46.8 percent. FiveThirtyEight, which says it adjusts its polling average on state and national polls, has a wider, 4.2-point lead for Biden in Florida.
Dig a little deeper into the more recent individual polling firms, and a new Hill/Harris poll shows Florida is all tied up between Trump and Biden. Another by the Trafalgar Group has Trump leading Biden by 2 points but within the margin of error of 2.9 percent.
FiveThirtyEight assigns ratings to each pollster on the basis of their accuracy and methodology, and it gives each outlet a C and C-, respectively.
Several more polls taken during the month of October have the race tied between Trump and Biden, Trump up by as much as 3 points -- and within the margin of error -- or Biden up by as much as 11 points. The former VP holds a 10.6-point lead nationally, FiveThirtyEight shows.
Polls conducted during the 2016 election, as FiveThirtyEight discusses, weren't all that far off despite an outcome that seemed surprising at the time. Then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton led Trump by roughly 3 points nationally (she beat Trump by about 2 points nationally). But where it matters is the state-by-state breakdown, the electoral college, and polls showed Clinton with a lead in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump won them all.
"The misses in swing states, though, led to an awful lot of people throwing their arms up: Sure, the polls say former vice president Joe Biden is winning, but who can trust polls?" The Washington Post's Phillip Bump wrote.
Looking state-by-state and who's currently leading, it's entirely possible for Biden to lose Florida and still become president-elect.
When the polls suggest a tight race, it seems Trump and Biden feel the same, too. Trump's visit Friday to Fort Myers was his 14th trip to the state this year, according to his campaign. He later headlined an event in Ocala, while his son, Donald Trump Jr., visited Clearwater.
Biden spent the day Friday in the battleground state of Michigan, though he was in Florida on Tuesday. Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, made two stops: Lake Mary and St. Petersburg.
Most pollsters who talked with FiveThirtyEight about their strategies this year over 2016 say they made some sort of modification in their polling in an attempt to better reflect voters' choices. Many of them say they're confident in the current state of polling and what's being reported right now.
Things that could throw the result off? The ongoing pandemic, which could affect voter turnout and how votes are counted.
2020 is shaping up to be a record-breaking year, however, with 16 percent of all votes cast in the 2016 presidential election already cast this year -- that's at least 22 million votes.
10 Tampa Bay is your source for all things about the 2020 election. Visit 10TampaBay.com/vote for ballot information, polling places, deadlines and more.
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