Latest poll: Ohio a toss-up as Biden holds 1-point lead

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Major partisan differences on voting methods during pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With fewer than six weeks until Election Day, the latest polling of Ohio shows former Vice President Joe Biden in a statistical tie with President Donald Trump.

The latest poll from Baldwin Wallace University, released Thursday, shows Ohio voters prefer Biden to Trump, 45% to 44%. Considering the poll’s 3.3% margin of error, the two candidates are locked in a statistical tie.

BWU’s Community Research Institute, partnered with Oakland University and Ohio Northern University, conducted the poll of 1,011 likely Ohio voters Sept. 8-22.

The President has generally maintained a slight lead in Ohio since late August but has jockeyed back and forth with Biden throughout most of the race. BWU’s last poll of Ohioans, conducted April 20-25, found the same result as Thursday’s poll, Biden 45%, Trump 44%.

The reality of a tossup race may be unnerving for the Trump camp, because he beat Hillary Clinton in Ohio by more than 8 points in 2016.

“The tight race in Ohio should concern Republicans,” said BWU CRI associate director Dr. Lauren Copeland. “Having to expend resources in a state that was once considered a safe state for Trump means having fewer resources to deploy in other competitive states such as Pennsylvania, which is increasingly seen as the state most likely to decide who wins the Electoral College.”

BWU’s poll also surveyed voters in Pennsylvania, as well as two other key swing states, Michigan and Wisconsin. Results show Pennsylvania is another tossup, with Biden holding a lead of fewer than 2 points.

However, results show Biden with a comfortable 8-point lead in Michigan and 9-point lead in Wisconsin. Those two states were key to Trump’s 2016 victory in which he won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Clinton by more than 2 million votes.

As campaigns try to convince as many voters as they can in the last weeks of the race, BWU’s poll shows most people already know who they will vote for. In Ohio, more than 86% of both likely Biden and Trump voters said their mind is made up.

Different parties, different voting methods

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague the United States, voters will face a decision on how to cast their votes – by mail, in person early or in person on Nov. 3.

BWU’s poll found 46% of Ohioans plan to vote in person on Election Day, compared to 42% by absentee ballot and 9% in person early.

The poll also found that Ohio Democrats will be more likely to vote absentee than in person on Election Day (56% to 30%), while Ohio Republicans are more likely to head to the physical voting booth on Nov. 3 than vote absentee (63% to 27%).

Independents are about even: 44% on Election Day, 43% absentee.

This partisan difference in voting methods could mean that Trump takes an early lead on Election Night because in-person votes are counted first, but then Biden gains ground or even wins after mail-in votes are counted.

Elections experts and officials nationwide, including Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, have said the full picture of who won will not be clear on Election Night like people are used to.

“This year they may be a little more unofficial than usual, because we know that we’re going to see a record number of absentee ballots,” LaRose said earlier this month.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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