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Sept. 29, 2020, 12:51 p.m. EDT

Ahead of tonight’s debate, Biden leads Trump by 3.6 points in swing-state polls

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Victor Reklaitis

As President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden prepare for their first debate, polls focused on key swing states are showing a lead of 3.6 percentage points for Biden.

With 35 days to go before the election, the face-off at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday is expected to set an audience record, and a small slice of viewers who haven’t been tracking the White House race closely could be swayed as they tune in.

“That’s where I point to the debates as potentially consequential,”  University of Missouri expert Mitchell McKinney told MarketWatch in an interview ahead of the clash in Cleveland, citing his past research. “They can move the needle for 2% or 3% of the viewers, and we’ve got races in these states that are just neck-and-neck, virtually tied. They really can have an effect.”

In a RealClearPolitics moving average of polls focused on top swing states likely to decide the Nov. 3 election, Biden gets support of 48.6% of voters as of Tuesday, ahead of Trump’s 45.0%. In RCP’s average of national surveys , the former vice president is at 49.3% vs. the Republican incumbent’s 43.2%, and betting market s give Biden a 54.9% chance of winning the White House race vs. the president’s 44.3%.

The debate in the swing state of Ohio comes as a New York Times report with  details on Trump’s income tax returns has dominated headlines. News coverage also has focused on the president’s push to have  Judge Amy Coney Barrett fill a Supreme Court vacancy before the election —and on the U.S. death toll in the coronavirus pandemic topping 200,000 .

The stock market /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.40% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.33% was trading lower on Tuesday , after closing with gains on Monday . The S&P 500 index  /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.47% has  lost ground this month , but the equity gauge is still positive for the year and notched an  all-time high on Sept. 2 .

The CBOE Volatility Index /zigman2/quotes/210598281/delayed VIX +0.58% was higher Tuesday, as Goldman Sachs strategists said “volatility is likely to remain elevated in the near term.” The Goldman team also said  the first debate could be an “important catalyst for investors to assess risks.”

Related: Betting against election volatility draws contrarian investors

US : Dow Jones Global
+113.37 +0.40%
Volume: 351.45M
Oct. 20, 2020 5:08p
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
+37.61 +0.33%
Volume: 3.16M
Oct. 20, 2020 5:16p
+16.20 +0.47%
Volume: 2.11B
Oct. 20, 2020 5:08p
US : Cboe Indices
+0.17 +0.58%
Volume: 0.00
Oct. 20, 2020 3:14p

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