What the polls show 11 days after the Biden-Trump debate

President Joe Biden was trailing former President Donald Trump — albeit within the margin of error — in many national and battleground polls before Biden’s debate debacle.

Now Biden is trailing by 1 to 2 points more in some surveys, but the movement is still within the margin of error, and few of the results reflect a radically altered race — though in our polarized and tightly divided politics, the campaign could very well hinge on such margins.

That’s the polling takeaway 11 days after Biden’s disastrous debate performance as a handful of Democrats have called for him to exit the race and a defiant Biden insists he’s remaining in the campaign. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

And that minimal change in the polling mirrors what surveys found after Trump’s criminal conviction in late May — slight movement of the sort that could matter a lot in a close presidential campaign but nothing suggesting a fundamentally changed race compared to what came before.

Take the national polls. Before the debate, Trump was ahead of Biden by 1 point among likely voters in the CBS News/YouGov poll. Now his lead is 2 points — within the margin of error.

In CNN’s national poll before the debate, in April, Trump was up by 6 points. After the debate? It was an identical 6 points.

The biggest movement came from the national New York Times/Siena College poll, but even that movement didn’t suggest a sea change in the race over two weeks. Before the debate, according to that survey, Trump was ahead of Biden by 6 points among registered voters and 4 points among likely voters.

After the debate, Trump’s lead was 8 points among registered voters and 6 points among likely voters. That’s a 2-point shift in Trump’s direction.

Battleground polls also show stability

Then there’s the battleground-state polling. Bloomberg News/Morning Consult polls released over the weekend found a mostly stable race, with Trump slightly ahead in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and with Biden up in Michigan and Wisconsin. All of the results were within the margin of error, except Trump’s 7-point lead in Pennsylvania.

(That having been said, it’s difficult to reconcile Biden’s being down by 7 points in Pennsylvania but ahead by 5 points in that Bloomberg/Morning Consult polling.)

The exception to the stable polling was a Saint Anselm College poll of New Hampshire, which found Trump narrowly ahead, though well within the margin of error, in a multi-candidate field there. Remember, Democrats have won New Hampshire in every presidential election since 2000.

While the topline results don’t paint a picture of a fundamentally changed race, what has changed quickly in the polling since the debate are perceptions of Biden’s health.

The CBS/YouGov poll finds the share of voters believing Biden has the mental and cognitive health to be president dropped from 35% in June to 27% after the debate — a larger change than what the CBS poll found in the horse race.

Important questions to ask

National Democrats are panicked after Biden’s debate performance and its aftermath — with good reason.

But the polling raises important questions: Why weren’t they panicked before the debate, when the numbers were already showing Biden facing a difficult road to re-election? Are national Democrats and progressive media voices simply catching up to where many voters had previously been about his age and health?

Are most voters locked into their perceptions of both Biden and Trump, which explains why seismic events — like Trump’s conviction or Biden’s debate performance — have barely budged the poll numbers?

And is it possible that another seismic event could shift the race a few points in the other direction for the voters who aren’t locked in?

After all, at least four events so far have slightly moved numbers in this stable race over the past year — the Israel-Hamas war, the aftermath of Biden’s State of the Union address, Trump’s conviction and the June 27 debate.

Will there be another? You can probably count on it.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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