State of the Race in the Battleground Suburbs

State of the Race in the Battleground Suburbs

Suburbs Image Header3

Jump to section

Right now, Joe Biden holds a 15-point lead in the battleground suburbs of MI, WI, PA, AZ, FL, and NC and is substantially outperforming Hillary Clinton compared to the last presidential race.

In our new survey, battleground suburban voters said they narrowly backed Clinton over Donald Trump by a 46–43% margin in 2016. Today, Biden leads 51–36% (with an identical 55–40% spread including “leaners”). This commanding advantage also represents a six-point shift from our pre-debate survey in September, which found Biden leading by nine points, 46–37% (52–­43% with “leaners”). Notably, over 50% of voters in the battleground suburbs now say they will “definitely” vote for Biden—a benchmark we have not seen in any of our previous rounds of research. And as expected, Biden leads by a substantial 73–26% margin with those who have already voted.

Both parties know that the path to victory in November runs through the suburbs. That’s why Third Way has been conducting monthly public opinion research with suburban voters in battleground states throughout 2020 to keep a close watch on the political ebbs and flows in these decisive communities.

As indicated by Biden’s swelling support, a significant plurality of suburban voters in these key states agree that he won the first debate. A majority (53%) say they watched or listened to all of the debate, while an additional 38% say they watched some of it or read/watched highlights. Just under half of battleground suburban voters (46%) believe that Biden won the debate, while only 26% believe Trump won. Thirty-three percent say the debate made them more likely to vote for Biden, while 19% say it made them more likely to vote for Trump. Forty-eight percent say it did not affect their vote.

Biden currently has a commanding lead among voters in the suburbs of the states that will decide this election. If he can hold it over the coming weeks, it will deliver him the White House.

See the survey results here.


Third Way and David Binder Research partnered to conduct a survey of 1,200 suburban 2020 likely voters in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida. This gave a margin of error of 2.8% on the full sample. Suburbs were defined using a zip-code level classification compiled by the Department of Education. The survey was conducted online using a panel matched to vote history, in English and Spanish, from September 30–October 5, 2020.

  • Elections223