Beyond showing Biden better positioned to defeat Trump in battleground states than Sanders or Warren, the poll illustrates the “nightmare” scenario for Democrats outlined by David Wasserman in a July piece for MSNBC — one in which Trump loses the popular vote by as many as 5 million votes, but still prevails in the Electoral College. To put it succinctly, no matter how much the Democratic nominee runs up the score in states like California and New York, it won’t matter if they can’t win in a handful of the aforementioned states that Trump won in 2016. And as of now, only Biden is positioned to do that — and even in that case his edge over Trump is within the margin of error.
What explains Trump’s enduring appeal in battleground states? According to the NYT/Siena poll — his overwhelming popularity with white voters who don’t have college degrees, which is just as strong now as it was three years ago.