Friday, June 26, 2020

The Electoral College Map (6/26/20)

Update for June 26.

After a flood of new data on Thursday, all Friday had to offer was a handful of national polls. But the series of Sunbelt polls -- in Florida (Biden +9), Georgia (Biden +2), North Carolina (Biden +2) and Texas (Biden +1) -- from Fox that were released came out just after FHQ went live with the update a day ago. At least those are out there to incorporate.

So let's talk about them.

There were a few people out there who seemed amenable to the idea of Biden being marginally ahead in Georgia and Texas but balked at that gap in Biden's favor in Florida. And while that does grab the attention -- especially for those out there who have followed presidential (and for that matter, a number of statewide) elections in Sunshine state over the last few cycles -- that makes some sense. But if Biden is up two in Georgia and one in Texas and if there has been a uniform shift from 2016 to now, then the margin would be a bit wider in Florida than in the other states. No, it may not be a nine point spread there, but it is probably at or above the line between the Biden toss up states and the Lean Biden states. That is right around or above the 5 percent mark. At FHQ, Florida comes in just under that, but if one were to err on the side of caution, then Florida would likely be a bit in Lean Biden turf.

The North Carolina poll from Fox would be the one FHQ would take some exception to. If it is off, it is not by much, but the two point Biden edge in the Tar Heel state is not exactly consistent with the order of states that has been established so far this cycle. A two point Biden lead in Georgia would likely mean a four point advantage in North Carolina. Again, that is not that big a difference, but one worth point out in light of the Electoral College Spectrum below.

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 CD2-1
NE CD1-1
ME CD1-1
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 Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states up to the Keystone state), 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 New Hampshire
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state for the former vice president. But because the line between New Hampshire and Pennsylvania creates an Electoral College tie (269-269), Pennsylvania is the tipping point state for Trump. It is where the president surpasses 270 electoral votes. Collectively, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are the tipping point states.

Although this series of surveys from Fox catches the eye, it did little to shake up what has become apparent in the order of states on the Electoral College Spectrum here at FHQ. Florida jumped up one cell switching places with still-underpolled Nevada and Texas swapped spots with Iowa. Both, given the new polls, moved in Biden's direction.

And while the order above did not change all that much, the Watch List continues to grow. Florida joined New Hampshire, Nebraska's 2nd congressional district and Pennsylvania as states on the cusp of pushing over into the Lean Biden category. All remain toss ups as FHQ defines it -- below a five point margin -- but the trajectory of change in each is toward Biden. Georgia, too, joined the Watch List. The Biden-favorable survey from the Peach state was enough to bring it within a point of the partisan line, the line separating Biden and Trump states. Georgia and Ohio are now the two states that could break the 352-186 Biden lead in the electoral college tally that has been in place since FHQ began these updates.

Not that that is what matters. Change, as was explained in yesterday's post, will come when it comes. When they occur around here, the changes tend to be fairly durable. But at this point, Georgia hopping the partisan line into Biden's column is more likely than Ohio pushing over to Trump's side.

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 Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Lean Biden
to Strong Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD1
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
New Hampshire
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
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 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.

Related posts:
The Electoral College Map (6/25/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/24/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/23/20)

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