Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Electoral College Map (6/18/20)

Update for June 18.

It was a mostly quiet day on the survey front. While there were a handful of national polls showing former Vice President Biden maintaining a six to eight point lead, there was but one state-level poll released on June 18. And that Civiqs poll of Kentucky did little to alter the general outlook FHQ has point to in the initial days of this 2020 projection.

President Trump's 20 lead in the Bluegrass state may run a bit ahead of where previous polls there showed the race, but it was not something that raised the graduated weighted average margin in the state all that much. And it certainly did nothing to change the projection of Kentucky as anything but a strong state for the president. It is wedged firmly in the middle of the strong Trump states at this point in FHQ's averages.

And needless to say, a poll that did not move a strong state for either candidate, did little to change the picture on the map above. The tally stays at Biden 352, Trump 186 for the third day running. These are the slow (polling) days of late spring, and we should not necessarily expect to see either candidate's total change all that much. That is perhaps less true in some states where the overall polling is lacking and any seeming outlier could pull the average more wildly in one direction or the other. Few polls, more volatility in the averages.

That said, the expectation moving forward for the next little bit is to look for more changes within a candidate's total rather than across them. In other words, there are likely to be more category changes than changes in the electoral college vote total for the two candidates.

NOTE: A description of the methodology behind the graduated weighted average of 2020 state-level polling that FHQ uses for these projections can be found here.

The Electoral College Spectrum1
NE CD1-1
ME CD1-1
NE CD2-1
ME CD2-1
NE CD3-1
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 Florida (Biden's toss up states up to  Florida), he would have 289 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 Trumps's is on the right in bold italics.

To keep the figure to 50 cells, Washington, DC and its three electoral votes are included in the beginning total on the Democratic side of the spectrum. The District has historically been the most Democratic state in the Electoral College.

3 Florida
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state.

The one exception to that for now is Ohio. The Buckeye state is the closest state to being tied between Biden and Trump and any Trump-favorable poll could tip the balance there and shift Ohio over the partisan line into Trump's column. Georgia is the next possibility behind Ohio, but it would have to move in the opposite direction to change the overall totals. But the Peach state is tipped slightly more toward Trump now than Ohio is to Biden.

Florida remains the tipping point state for the second day in a row, underlining just how important those 29 electoral votes are to whichever candidate is able to claim them in November. There are more paths to 270 if one can count Florida on one side or the other than any other state. And even if it is not in the median spot among the current Biden toss ups, Florida would pull Biden over the top if the election matched the projection. All the other states would be cushion.

After adding Minnesota a day ago, the Watch List remained static today. All the states within a point of switching categories stuck in their same positions. And yet another day has passed without any additional polling of Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire, three underpolled but close states that could use some updated data.

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
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
Nebraska CD1
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean 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 the thad 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.

No comments: