Even before the Sunday morning release of two blockbuster national surveys, there was plenty of grist for the political-punditry mill: the increasing likelihood of a federal government shutdown and the indictment of a sitting U.S. senator. Then along came Sunday morning, when a new NBC poll found President Biden and former President Trump in a dead heat, and the ABC/Washington Post poll gave Trump a commanding lead.

The NBC News poll, conducted Sept. 15-19, showed Biden and Trump tied at 46 percent apiece. Meanwhile, the ABC News/Washington Post poll, taken Sept. 15-20 and released the same morning, put Trump ahead by 10 points, 52 to 42 percent. The NBC poll was conducted among 1,000 registered voters jointly by Democrat Jeff Horwitt and Republican Bill McInturff. The ABC/Post Poll of 1,006 adults, with 890 registered voters in the more political questions, was conducted by Gary Langer.

For all of the sturm und drang, about 90 percent of the two surveys’ questions yielded very similar results. But all the attention shone on the general-election ballot test. The most plausible explanation for how

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