Monday, October 19, 2020

The Electoral College Map (10/19/20)

Update for October 19.


The race for the White House is just 15 days from the conclusion to the voting phase of the campaign on November 3. And 15 days out, there were a number of new surveys released including new surveys from all three blue wall states Trump flipped in 2016 and has been defending in 2020. But there were also a few polls from a number of currently Strong Biden states. No, nothing has changed for any of the three -- Colorado, Virginia and Washington -- after the addition of the new polling data, but that does provide the opportunity to assess how and to what extent things have swung in those types of states relative to more frequently polled and more competitive states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

The one dynamic that has been true in most states is that Biden has generally gained in states in 2020 polling compared to how Hillary Clinton fared on election day in 2016. President Trump, on the other hand, has tended to lose in the same comparison. But that may be the only commonality held across the trio of Strong Biden states cited above. On average, those three states have moved about seven and a half points in the Democrats' direction since 2016 (which is an above average (+6.83 points) swing). But how those effects are felt is different across those three states. In Colorado and Washington, Biden's gain compared to Clinton was more than Trump's loss from the 2016 election to polling now. And while it was close in Virginia, the president's losses were larger than what Biden has been able to add, all while the commonwealth shifted less than the average national swing. But that differs from the bluest of the Strong Biden states like California or Hawaii where Biden has seen his shares of support in 2020 polling mirror Clinton's election day performance four years ago. All the change, then, is on the Trump side of the equation. 

FHQ often talks about a uniform swing from one election to the next, and while that notion holds up well enough, there are some subtle differences. That is definitely true in the polling, but one will have to wait to see whether that is the case once the voting is over next month. Regardless, if the question is whether Colorado, Virginia and Washington fit well (or poorly) into the discussion of a uniform shift from 2016 to now, then the answer would be yes. None are exceptions to the rule and none are likely at risk of being anything other than Strong Biden states.

On to the polls... 


Polling Quick Hits:
Alaska
(Trump 49, Biden 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +6.16]
The Patinkin Research Strategies survey has the battle for the Last Frontier's three electoral votes a bit closer than has been the case in most polling there in 2020. And it is not hard to figure out what is driving that. Only once has Biden been over 46 precent in the polling this year in Alaska. But Trump tended to hover around 50 percent all year in a state where he received around 51 percent of the vote in 2016. As opposed to a state like Hawaii, the changes in Alaska from 2016 to now have been on the Biden side of the equation. Trump has been remarkably steady there. And that adds up to basically an on average swing in Alaska, only it is one that has been concentrated on the Democratic side.


Colorado
(Biden 55, Trump 38 via RBI Strategies and Research | Biden 47, Trump 38 via YouGov)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +12.97]
Generally, Trump has been around 40 percent in the Centennial state, but in a pair of new polls there today has sunk to 38 percent, the lowest he has been in Colorado since the spring. But of these two polls, it is the RBI survey that is a bit closer to the 53-40 (rounded) advantage Biden has in the FHQ averages in the state. And the reason for the difference across the polls is the 11 percent share in the YouGov survey that are undecided. Being under 40 percent is not exactly unusual for the president in Colorado, but Biden being below 50 percent is. This is just the third survey of 22 in the field in the state in calendar 2020 that have found the vice president below the majority mark. 


Michigan
(Biden 51, Trump 41)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.18]
At this point there really is not that much to say about the state of play in Michigan. There are occasionally outliers that point toward a closers race in the Great Lakes state, but on the whole this is a state where Biden is consistently up in the seven to none point range in recently polling. The new Mitchell Research and Communications poll does not stray too far from that even if the margin stretches into the double digits. Compared to the FHQ averages in the state -- Biden 50-43 -- Biden is running a touch above his average while Trump is just below his. That is normal polling variation and further evidence of a steady race in Michigan.


Pennsylvania
(Biden 48, Trump 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +5.42]
The first of two Trafalgar Group surveys on the day comes from Pennsylvania. And if one came looking for big changes, then look elsewhere. Yes, this poll finds the race in the commonwealth closer than many if not most other polls, but it also continues the static trend in the Keystone state in Trafalgar surveys. The firm has now conducted five polls in Pennsylvania and the four latest ones have all had Biden up by two points. The only exception was a Biden +5 in the pollster's June survey during what in retrospect was Biden's strongest period in surveys all year. But again, this most recent poll like those after June is not in line with the current FHQ averages. Compared to Biden's 50-44 (rounded) edge in the averages this poll finds Trump toward the top end of his range in Pennsylvania polling and Biden in the heart of his for the most part. But if Trafalgar is steady, then it should come as no surprise that Pennsylvania remains steady around Biden +5.5 at FHQ. And that continues to be the story. 

 
Virginia
(Biden 51, Trump 42 via Cygnal [October] | Biden 52, Trump 41 via Cygnal [September])
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +11.89]
Alaska, Colorado and Michigan above all had new polls to day from pollsters who were in the field in those states for the first time in calendar 2020. That was true in Virginia as well. But unlike those three state, the pair of polls from Cygnal fortunately provided a natural before and after comparison and one that really showed no movement from September to October in the presidential race in the Old Dominion. The FHQ average in Virginia now sits at Biden 53-41 (rounded) and both of these new additions were consistent with that. However, it does continue to be a marvel that a state talked about as a battleground in 2008, 2012 and 2016 is not one in 2020. [And the swing there, as noted above, is less than in either Colorado or Washington.]


Washington
(Biden 60, Trump 37)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +24.44]
Speaking of Washington, Public Policy Polling was back in the field there for the first time since May, and in the five months since little has seemingly changed. The 59-37 advantage Biden held then is marginally bigger now, but not anything worth dwelling on. Honestly, the FHQ average in the Evergreen state has the margin there at Biden 60-35. And like a number of other polls above, this poll is consistent with that. Washington, too, is a steady race, one where Biden is running about seven points in the polls ahead of where Clinton was on election day in 2016 and Trump is about two points off his own pace. 

 
Wisconsin
(Biden 48, Trump 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +6.20]
The other Trafalgar Group poll is from Wisconsin. Last week's two point Biden lead is still the same even if the two candidates' shares have shifted some in that time. But like the series in Pennsylvania, the Trafalgar polls in the Badger state have tended to operate in a fairly small range. Trump led by one in both the June and August polls there and Biden on the other end of the spectrum has led by no more than three. It is a tight range and steady race in Wisconsin as well. Yes, like the Pennsylvania polls, Trafalgar indicates the race is closer here also, but the story is still just how static the polling has been from the firm.  And that manifests itself by Biden existing in the heart of his range in Trafalgar surveys while Trump tends to run on the upper end of his. 



The Electoral College Spectrum1
DC-3
VT-3
(6)2
IL-20
(162)
WI-10
(253)
MO-10
(125)
TN-11
(60)
MA-11
(17)
OR-7
(169)
PA-203
(273 | 285)
AK-3
(115)
KY-8
(49)
MD-10
(27)
NJ-14
(183)
NV-6
(279 | 265)
SC -9
(112)
AL-9
(41)
HI-4
(31)
ME-2
(185)
FL-29
(308 | 259)
KS-6
(103)
SD-3
(32)
CA-55
(86)
CO-9
(194)
AZ-11
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
MT-3
(97)
ID-4
(29)
NYI-29
(115)
VA-13
(207)
NC-15
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
NE-2
(93)
AR-6
(25)
DE-3
(118)
NH-4
(211)
GA-16
(351 | 203)
IN-11
(91)
OK-7
(19)
WA-12
(130)
NM-5
(216)
OH-18
(187)
UT-6
(80)
ND-3
(12)
ME CD1-1
CT-7
(138)
MN-10
(226)
IA-6
(169)
MS-6
(74)
WV-5
(9)
RI-4
(142)
NE CD2-1
MI-16
(243)
TX-38
(163)
LA-8
(68)
WY-3
NE CD3-1
(4)
1 Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.

2 The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he or she won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, Trump won all the states up to and including Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 285 electoral votes. Trump's numbers are only totaled through the states he would need in order to get to 270. In those cases, Biden's number is on the left and Trump's is on the right in bold italics.

3 Pennsylvania
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state. The tipping point cell is shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

It may be dangerous to play a drinking game when reading these daily updates. If one drinks every time FHQ uses the word steady, then things could get ugly and fast. But that is just what this race is: steady. The map and Watch List again remain unchanged from a day ago. However, Alaska did shift up a cell, switching places with Missouri as the most "competitive" of the Lean Trump states. Those two states and South Carolina continue to be tightly clustered together and still approaching five points away from the most proximate Toss Up Trump state (Texas). But if that is what passes for change this late in the race, then are pretty well locked in where it counts. That is not to say that things cannot change either in polling or in the voting process, but it is going to take a break from this current trajectory (or lack thereof) to do it for a president who is playing catch up.

15 days to go.


Where things stood at FHQ on October 19 (or close to it) in...
2016
2012
2008


--
NOTE: Distinctions are made between states based on how much they favor one candidate or another. States with a margin greater than 10 percent between Biden and Trump are "Strong" states. Those with a margin of 5 to 10 percent "Lean" toward one of the two (presumptive) nominees. Finally, states with a spread in the graduated weighted averages of both the candidates' shares of polling support less than 5 percent are "Toss Up" states. The darker a state is shaded in any of the figures here, the more strongly it is aligned with one of the candidates. Not all states along or near the boundaries between categories are close to pushing over into a neighboring group. Those most likely to switch -- those within a percentage point of the various lines of demarcation -- are included on the Watch List below.

The Watch List1
State
Potential Switch
Georgia
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
New Hampshire
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
New Mexico
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
Ohio
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
Pennsylvania
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
1 Graduated weighted average margin within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

--
Methodological Note: In past years, FHQ has tried some different ways of dealing with states with no polls or just one poll in the early rounds of these projections. It does help that the least polled states are often the least competitive. The only shortcoming is that those states may be a little off in the order in the Spectrum. In earlier cycles, a simple average of the state's three previous cycles has been used. But in 2016, FHQ strayed from that and constructed an average swing from 2012 to 2016 that was applied to states. That method, however, did little to prevent anomalies like the Kansas poll that had Clinton ahead from biasing the averages. In 2016, the early average swing in the aggregate was  too small to make much difference anyway. For 2020, FHQ has utilized an average swing among states that were around a little polled state in the rank ordering on election day in 2016. If there is just one poll in Delaware in 2020, for example, then maybe it is reasonable to account for what the comparatively greater amount of polling tells us about the changes in Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico. Or perhaps the polling in Iowa, Mississippi and South Carolina so far tells us a bit about what may be happening in Alaska where no public polling has been released. That will hopefully work a bit better than the overall average that may end up a bit more muted.


--
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Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Electoral College Map (10/18/20)

Update for October 18.


Saturday turned to Sunday and that calm before the storm that FHQ referenced yesterday stayed similarly calm today on the polling front. Only a couple of battleground trackers from YouGov out or Arizona and Wisconsin were added to the dataset today, and yes, neither poll did much to change things around here. Both were status quo maintaining surveys. 

On to the polls... 


Polling Quick Hits:
Arizona
(Biden 50, Trump 47)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.03]
The margin in the YouGov survey of the Grand Canyon state was consistent with where the FHQ averages currently have the race for the 11 electoral votes at stake in Arizona. But that was the case in the September YouGov poll there. It, too, was Biden +3. But what is different in October is that while the margin is the same, both candidates shares of support were higher with leaners included. Furthermore, Biden surpassed the 50 percent barrier, something that has been more common in the blue wall states that Trump flipped in 2016. And that is not to say that Biden has not been over the majority mark in Arizona, but those instances are more sporadic there than in the Rust Belt. That change is significant as election day approaches.


Wisconsin
(Biden 51, Trump 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +6.28]
The addition of the leaners in the Wisconsin survey from YouGov had less of an impact there than in Arizona. In fact, in the Badger state, there was little movement at all from the firm's last poll there in September. Then, it was Biden 50-46. So, Biden tacked on another point and Trump remained stationary on the cusp of the upper 40s. And although there is some consistency there, poll over poll, YouGov has both candidates out in front of their FHQ average shares of support. That currently stands at Biden 50-43 (rounded). The former vice president, then, is mainly in line with his average in this survey, but Trump is at the top of his range here compared to recent polling, and basically stuck where he ended up in 2016 in the Badger state. 



The Electoral College Spectrum1
DC-3
VT-3
(6)2
IL-20
(162)
WI-10
(253)
MO-10
(125)
TN-11
(60)
MA-11
(17)
OR-7
(169)
PA-203
(273 | 285)
AK-3
(115)
KY-8
(49)
MD-10
(27)
NJ-14
(183)
NV-6
(279 | 265)
SC -9
(112)
AL-9
(41)
HI-4
(31)
ME-2
(185)
FL-29
(308 | 259)
KS-6
(103)
SD-3
(32)
CA-55
(86)
CO-9
(194)
AZ-11
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
MT-3
(97)
ID-4
(29)
NYI-29
(115)
VA-13
(207)
NC-15
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
NE-2
(93)
AR-6
(25)
DE-3
(118)
NH-4
(211)
GA-16
(351 | 203)
IN-11
(91)
OK-7
(19)
WA-12
(130)
NM-5
(216)
OH-18
(187)
UT-6
(80)
ND-3
(12)
ME CD1-1
CT-7
(138)
MN-10
(226)
IA-6
(169)
MS-6
(74)
WV-5
(9)
RI-4
(142)
NE CD2-1
MI-16
(243)
TX-38
(163)
LA-8
(68)
WY-3
NE CD3-1
(4)
1 Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.

2 The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he or she won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, Trump won all the states up to and including Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 285 electoral votes. Trump's numbers are only totaled through the states he would need in order to get to 270. In those cases, Biden's number is on the left and Trump's is on the right in bold italics.

3 Pennsylvania
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state. The tipping point cell is shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

This update is steady as she goes. The map, Spectrum and Watch List all are exactly the same today as they were yesterday after the addition of these polls. That is another day gone that the trajectory of the race failed to change (in either direction). 

16 days to go.


Where things stood at FHQ on October 18 (or close to it) in...
2016
2012
2008


--
NOTE: Distinctions are made between states based on how much they favor one candidate or another. States with a margin greater than 10 percent between Biden and Trump are "Strong" states. Those with a margin of 5 to 10 percent "Lean" toward one of the two (presumptive) nominees. Finally, states with a spread in the graduated weighted averages of both the candidates' shares of polling support less than 5 percent are "Toss Up" states. The darker a state is shaded in any of the figures here, the more strongly it is aligned with one of the candidates. Not all states along or near the boundaries between categories are close to pushing over into a neighboring group. Those most likely to switch -- those within a percentage point of the various lines of demarcation -- are included on the Watch List below.

The Watch List1
State
Potential Switch
Georgia
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
New Hampshire
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
New Mexico
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
Ohio
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
Pennsylvania
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
1 Graduated weighted average margin within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

--
Methodological Note: In past years, FHQ has tried some different ways of dealing with states with no polls or just one poll in the early rounds of these projections. It does help that the least polled states are often the least competitive. The only shortcoming is that those states may be a little off in the order in the Spectrum. In earlier cycles, a simple average of the state's three previous cycles has been used. But in 2016, FHQ strayed from that and constructed an average swing from 2012 to 2016 that was applied to states. That method, however, did little to prevent anomalies like the Kansas poll that had Clinton ahead from biasing the averages. In 2016, the early average swing in the aggregate was  too small to make much difference anyway. For 2020, FHQ has utilized an average swing among states that were around a little polled state in the rank ordering on election day in 2016. If there is just one poll in Delaware in 2020, for example, then maybe it is reasonable to account for what the comparatively greater amount of polling tells us about the changes in Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico. Or perhaps the polling in Iowa, Mississippi and South Carolina so far tells us a bit about what may be happening in Alaska where no public polling has been released. That will hopefully work a bit better than the overall average that may end up a bit more muted.


--
Related posts:




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Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Electoral College Map (10/17/20)

Update for October 17.


The weekend began slowly. There was just one new survey released out of Missouri on Saturday to go along with a trio of battleground polls from HarrisX that came in after FHQ's update had posted a day ago. Consider it the calm before the storm that will likely be on the polling front in the 17 days between now and the culmination of the voting phase on election day. The campaigns will hit high gear (if they have not already with what is now more than 26 million early and mail-in votes cast) and pollsters will race to get in a few more rounds of polling both nationwide and on the state level.

On to the polls... 


Polling Quick Hits:
Florida
(Biden 48, Trump 48)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.31]
These HarrisX polls in Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania today are all the first time the firm has conducted a survey in any of the three in calendar 2020. And that leaves no real natural comparison other than the overall FHQ averages in those battlegrounds. In Florida, the poll was on target on the Biden number (relative to the former vice president's FHQ average share of support) but had Trump three points out in front of where the established averages have had him in the Sunshine state. Yet the president has seen his recent range inch upward into the upper 40s more regularly since the first week in October. Biden,  meanwhile, is at the lower end of his range in polls conducted over the same period. One can therefore pick their poison here, or merely accept that this one is well within the scope of presidential poll results in Florida. 


Michigan
(Biden 54, Trump 43)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.14]
The same thing is not exactly true in the HarrisX survey of Michigan. In that poll of the Great Lakes state it is the president's level of support that is in line with his established average share of support at FHQ. Biden, on the other hand, is at level that he has not been in since an Emerson poll last week. That said, the former vice president has not risen that high in Michigan polling since his polling surge across the country in June and July. This one is, perhaps, a bit optimistic for the Democratic nominee, but it does continue a trend of his average support approaching the 50 percent mark at FHQ.


Missouri
(Trump 51, Biden 45)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +6.52]
The Missouri poll from Remington is thankfully part of a series the firm has conducted in the Show-Me state throughout 2020. And the new one is consistent with the other polls Remington has had in the field there. Trump has generally been in the low 50s while Biden has been in the mid-40s in the post-convention period. [The former vice president was in the low 40s in the firm's two polls in the summer before the conventions.] This survey, then, is par for the course in Missouri. Trump is comfortably enough ahead but 2020 is not 2016. Yes, Trump lags more than four points behind the pace he set four years ago, but Biden is approaching a seven point improvement on how Clinton fared there in the last election. That is an above average swing (6.84 points on average toward the Democrats) from then to now. 


Pennsylvania
(Biden 51, Trump 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +5.48]
Finally, the last HarrisX survey from Pennsylvania tracks closely with the current FHQ average in the commonwealth. Biden's holds a 50-44 (rounded) advantage in the FHQ formula and one could quibble about the changes in this poll relative to that, but both candidates' shares in this poll are honestly well within the range of both in recent Keystone state polls. And again, since Pennsylvania is the tipping point state in the rank order of states depicted in the Electoral College Spectrum below, it represents the very least of what the president has to make up between now and election day to pull back into a position to collect 270 electoral votes and defend the White House. 




The Electoral College Spectrum1
DC-3
VT-3
(6)2
IL-20
(162)
WI-10
(253)
MO-10
(125)
TN-11
(60)
MA-11
(17)
OR-7
(169)
PA-203
(273 | 285)
AK-3
(115)
KY-8
(49)
MD-10
(27)
NJ-14
(183)
NV-6
(279 | 265)
SC -9
(112)
AL-9
(41)
HI-4
(31)
ME-2
(185)
FL-29
(308 | 259)
KS-6
(103)
SD-3
(32)
CA-55
(86)
CO-9
(194)
AZ-11
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
MT-3
(97)
ID-4
(29)
NYI-29
(115)
VA-13
(207)
NC-15
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
NE-2
(93)
AR-6
(25)
DE-3
(118)
NH-4
(211)
GA-16
(351 | 203)
IN-11
(91)
OK-7
(19)
WA-12
(130)
NM-5
(216)
OH-18
(187)
UT-6
(80)
ND-3
(12)
ME CD1-1
CT-7
(138)
MN-10
(226)
IA-6
(169)
MS-6
(74)
WV-5
(9)
RI-4
(142)
NE CD2-1
MI-16
(243)
TX-38
(163)
LA-8
(68)
WY-3
NE CD3-1
(4)
1 Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.

2 The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he or she won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, Trump won all the states up to and including Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 285 electoral votes. Trump's numbers are only totaled through the states he would need in order to get to 270. In those cases, Biden's number is on the left and Trump's is on the right in bold italics.

3 Pennsylvania
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state. The tipping point cell is shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

Understandably, the fewer the number of polls to come out, the less the chances are to see any changes at FHQ (or anywhere else for that matter). And collectively this group of polls did not exactly shake the race from its current steady course. Missouri stayed in its position as the Lean Trump state next to the Lean/Toss Up line, but is still almost five points outside of the least competitive Toss Up Trump state (Texas). And Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania have dug into their positions on the Spectrum and are unlikely to, barring a string of contrary polls, to budge in the next two and a half weeks. But time will tell that tale. 

17 days to go.


Where things stood at FHQ on October 17 (or close to it) in...
2016
2012
2008


--
NOTE: Distinctions are made between states based on how much they favor one candidate or another. States with a margin greater than 10 percent between Biden and Trump are "Strong" states. Those with a margin of 5 to 10 percent "Lean" toward one of the two (presumptive) nominees. Finally, states with a spread in the graduated weighted averages of both the candidates' shares of polling support less than 5 percent are "Toss Up" states. The darker a state is shaded in any of the figures here, the more strongly it is aligned with one of the candidates. Not all states along or near the boundaries between categories are close to pushing over into a neighboring group. Those most likely to switch -- those within a percentage point of the various lines of demarcation -- are included on the Watch List below.

The Watch List1
State
Potential Switch
Georgia
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
New Hampshire
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
New Mexico
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
Ohio
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
Pennsylvania
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
1 Graduated weighted average margin within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

--
Methodological Note: In past years, FHQ has tried some different ways of dealing with states with no polls or just one poll in the early rounds of these projections. It does help that the least polled states are often the least competitive. The only shortcoming is that those states may be a little off in the order in the Spectrum. In earlier cycles, a simple average of the state's three previous cycles has been used. But in 2016, FHQ strayed from that and constructed an average swing from 2012 to 2016 that was applied to states. That method, however, did little to prevent anomalies like the Kansas poll that had Clinton ahead from biasing the averages. In 2016, the early average swing in the aggregate was  too small to make much difference anyway. For 2020, FHQ has utilized an average swing among states that were around a little polled state in the rank ordering on election day in 2016. If there is just one poll in Delaware in 2020, for example, then maybe it is reasonable to account for what the comparatively greater amount of polling tells us about the changes in Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico. Or perhaps the polling in Iowa, Mississippi and South Carolina so far tells us a bit about what may be happening in Alaska where no public polling has been released. That will hopefully work a bit better than the overall average that may end up a bit more muted.


--
Related posts:




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Friday, October 16, 2020

The Electoral College Map (10/16/20)

Update for October 16.


The work week comes to a close in much the same way that it began. Which is to say that the polling releases slowed down relative to the last few days while posting a handful more surveys than came out on Monday. Regardless, today's batch offered some unusual results from both some of the usual suspects and some of the less frequently surveyed states further out in the order on both sides of the partisan line. And perhaps suggesting that the results were uncommon is coded language for the fact that a few of these polls do not exactly match the story of consistency that FHQ has so often told in recent weeks. That said, even with a few polls that stray from consistency, little changed and that is especially true in the states that matter in the heart of the order on the Electoral College Spectrum below.

In any event, on to the polls... 


Polling Quick Hits:
Alaska
(Trump 45, Biden 39)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +6.59]
The Last Frontier has seen but nine publicly released surveys in calendar 2020 and Siena/NYT Upshot_ was the latest to wade into the presidential, Senate and House races to gauge public sentiment as time until election day inched down below three weeks this week. What Siena found in the presidential race in its first survey there this season was not off target with respect to the overall margin. It is in line with the average margin FHQ has had for Alaska for a few weeks now. What is different in this poll is how much support both caudates are pulling. Both are at their low points by fairly significant margins. Biden lags around five points behind his graduated weighted average share of support in Alaska polling and Trump is six points off his. And this is due to Siena not prompting potential leaners among at large group of undecided respondents and those supporting other minor party candidates. But again, since the margin is consistent with where the race is Alaska has been, this poll does not shift the state much in the order among Lean Trump states. 


Arizona
(Trump 46, Biden 45)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.03]
Siena's survey in Alaska was not the only first time in _____ poll of the day. Targoz Market Research_ was also recently in the field but in Arizona and had Trump ahead there by one percent. Trump leads in the Grand Canyon state are not non-existent, but they have happened with some relative infrequency. Out of the 82 publicly available polls in Arizona, Trump has led in just 15 of them. In October alone there have been 13 polls conducted in the state and Trump has led in only two of them. That is just around one in every six surveys with Trump ahead. They occur. And this poll in particular finds Trump right in the middle of his range of support while Biden is toward the bottom of his recent range. Arizona remains close, but as indicated by the nature of the polling above, Biden has been consistently out in front in the state.


Florida
(Biden 48, Trump 45)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.36]
It was not that long ago -- in the lead up to the first debate -- that FHQ cited how often Biden +3 leads were popping up in the data in the Sunshine state. The latest Mason-Dixon poll of Florida likely voters hits that sweet spot and is at least some evidence of some contraction in the race there since July when the firm was last in the field there. Then, it was Biden 50-46 but during a period that was part of that polling surge across the country for the former vice president. The interesting thing is that both candidates have lost some support since that time. It is not much, to be sure, but both ticked down some to a point that is consistent with where the FHQ averages are for both candidates in Florida. 


Hawaii
(Biden 61, Trump 28)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +29.86]
Like Alaska, there has been little polling of Hawaii in calendar 2020 and even fewer pollsters involved. Other than a few waves of small sample surveys from Survey Monkey, MRG Research has been the only other pollster to conduct any surveys in the Aloha state and had an update released today. Like the July poll, this latest survey was among registered and not likely voters, but still saw some movement. But it was movement for just one candidate. Trump held steady in the upper 20s which is behind both his 2016 showing and his current polling average in the state. On the other hand, Biden added support in the three months since the last MRG survey of Hawaii and pulled in line with Clinton's pace there four years ago and his own current FHQ average share of support in the state. And that is not an uncommon feature of the 2020 polling in the bluest of states. Any difference between the polling of 2020 and the 2016 results in those states is typically on Trump's side of the equation. The president tends to trail his 2016 showing while Biden is often consistent with where Clinton ended up in November 2016. But hold on to that thought for a moment. It returns later on in the post. 


Michigan
(Trump 47, Biden 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.08]
With just one exception, Trafalgar Group has shown a close race for Michigan's 16 electoral votes; something that often looks similar to the 2016 results in the state. That exception was the last survey the firm conducted immediately prior to the first presidential debate at the end of September that found Biden up a couple of points. If that is one's touchstone, then it looks as if there has been a modest shift in October toward Trump. Instead, it is that late September poll that stands out in the Trafalgar series in the Great Lakes state. What is more the whole series does not exactly jibe well with the full universe of polls in Michigan in calendar 2020. Michigan has been the most frequently surveyed state this cycle and just 13 of the 103 surveys have had Biden below 47 percent as he is in the this survey. And of those 13, eight found the former vice president either tied or in the lead. All of those tended to have a high share of undecided/other respondents. And the rest were from Trafalgar which has had both candidates consistently in the mid-40s other than the pre-debate poll cited above. Typically, that ends up with Trump at the high end of his range and Biden near the low point of his. 


New Jersey
(Biden 56, Trump 36)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +19.05]
Over in the Garden state, the new Stockton University survey -- its first there of the cycle -- fell in line with the current FHQ average shares of both candidates there. But as was the case in Hawaii, the poll was consistent with the averages but was more evidence of Biden being on par with Clinton's showing in New Jersey and Trump lagging behind his by more than four points. Again, that is the trend in some deeper blue states: Biden seemingly consolidating Clinton support and Trump being unable to put together the same 2016 coalition. 


North Carolina
(Biden 49, Trump 49)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +1.76]
Emerson was back in the field in North Carolina for the first time since September and although there were some changes they were in part methodological. The 51-49 Biden edge then is a tie at Emerson now, but the college pollster added an other response in this latest survey that was not there last month. The presence of other in the October poll siphoned off a couple of point and it came mainly from Biden. However, the bottom line in this Emerson series in the Tar Heel state is that it has been close and obviously continues to be in this latest update. But in this case, the survey has Biden support in line with his average at FHQ while Trump is running out in front of his average support.




The Electoral College Spectrum1
DC-3
VT-3
(6)2
IL-20
(162)
WI-10
(253)
MO-10
(125)
TN-11
(60)
MA-11
(17)
OR-7
(169)
PA-203
(273 | 285)
AK-3
(115)
KY-8
(49)
MD-10
(27)
NJ-14
(183)
NV-6
(279 | 265)
SC -9
(112)
AL-9
(41)
HI-4
(31)
ME-2
(185)
FL-29
(308 | 259)
KS-6
(103)
SD-3
(32)
CA-55
(86)
CO-9
(194)
AZ-11
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
MT-3
(97)
ID-4
(29)
NYI-29
(115)
VA-13
(207)
NC-15
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
NE-2
(93)
AR-6
(25)
DE-3
(118)
NH-4
(211)
GA-16
(351 | 203)
IN-11
(91)
OK-7
(19)
WA-12
(130)
NM-5
(216)
OH-18
(187)
UT-6
(80)
ND-3
(12)
ME CD1-1
CT-7
(138)
MN-10
(226)
IA-6
(169)
MS-6
(74)
WV-5
(9)
RI-4
(142)
NE CD2-1
MI-16
(243)
TX-38
(163)
LA-8
(68)
WY-3
NE CD3-1
(4)
1 Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.

2 The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he or she won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, Trump won all the states up to and including Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 285 electoral votes. Trump's numbers are only totaled through the states he would need in order to get to 270. In those cases, Biden's number is on the left and Trump's is on the right in bold italics.

3 Pennsylvania
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state. The tipping point cell is shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

If one expected big changes from floods of state-level polling over the last few days, then this smaller batch should certainly temper expectations today. They should be low in a fairly consistent race anyway. And while there were no changes to the map or the Watch List below, some of the polls above whether unusual or not from and/or from sporadically surveyed states triggered a couple of changes. The margin grew in Hawaii after the MRG poll was added there, pushing the Aloha state past New York and California deeper into the Biden coalition of states. The Siena poll of Alaska had the opposite effect. Yes, the Last Frontier remains in a tightly clustered group with Missouri and South Carolina, but the poll release there today drew the average in just enough to pull Alaska past Missouri toward the partisan line. Still, both of those states are safely blue and red respectively. And that is unlikely to change between now and election day. 

18 days to go.


Where things stood at FHQ on October 16 (or close to it) in...
2016
2012
2008


--
NOTE: Distinctions are made between states based on how much they favor one candidate or another. States with a margin greater than 10 percent between Biden and Trump are "Strong" states. Those with a margin of 5 to 10 percent "Lean" toward one of the two (presumptive) nominees. Finally, states with a spread in the graduated weighted averages of both the candidates' shares of polling support less than 5 percent are "Toss Up" states. The darker a state is shaded in any of the figures here, the more strongly it is aligned with one of the candidates. Not all states along or near the boundaries between categories are close to pushing over into a neighboring group. Those most likely to switch -- those within a percentage point of the various lines of demarcation -- are included on the Watch List below.

The Watch List1
State
Potential Switch
Georgia
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
New Hampshire
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
New Mexico
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
Ohio
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
Pennsylvania
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
1 Graduated weighted average margin within a fraction of a point of changing categories.

--
Methodological Note: In past years, FHQ has tried some different ways of dealing with states with no polls or just one poll in the early rounds of these projections. It does help that the least polled states are often the least competitive. The only shortcoming is that those states may be a little off in the order in the Spectrum. In earlier cycles, a simple average of the state's three previous cycles has been used. But in 2016, FHQ strayed from that and constructed an average swing from 2012 to 2016 that was applied to states. That method, however, did little to prevent anomalies like the Kansas poll that had Clinton ahead from biasing the averages. In 2016, the early average swing in the aggregate was  too small to make much difference anyway. For 2020, FHQ has utilized an average swing among states that were around a little polled state in the rank ordering on election day in 2016. If there is just one poll in Delaware in 2020, for example, then maybe it is reasonable to account for what the comparatively greater amount of polling tells us about the changes in Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico. Or perhaps the polling in Iowa, Mississippi and South Carolina so far tells us a bit about what may be happening in Alaska where no public polling has been released. That will hopefully work a bit better than the overall average that may end up a bit more muted.


--
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