Monday, June 29, 2020

The Electoral College Map (6/29/20)

Update for June 29.

Changes (June 29)
Toss Up Trump
Toss Up Biden
After most of a weekend with no new state-level surveys, a trio of intriguing polls were released; two late Sunday evening and another Monday morning. Those first two, out of a couple of formerly blue wall states -- Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- did little to change where the pair had been prior to those polls being included at FHQ. However, the Georgia survey from Public Policy Polling brought with it the first change in the overall FHQ Electoral College tally in the two weeks since the (near) daily updates here began.

Polling Quick Hits:
Obviously, the Peach state pushing over the partisan line into Biden territory on the strength of this PPP survey is noteworthy, but there is some necessary context that should run alongside that shift. First of all, Biden has led in all three polls of Georgia conducted during the month of June, but two of those three were from PPP. May was a little more varied in terms of both pollsters in Georgia and leaders. There were four different pollsters in the field there in May and each candidate led in two of those polls. In a state, then, that was already close but tipped toward President Trump, than change in trajectory can matter.

And it has. But the biggest bit of context to be added here is that Georgia is a virtual tie between the president and former Vice President Biden. Georgia was already on the Watch List (below) and FHQ mentioned last week that if a state was going to alter the overall electoral vote projection, it was going to be the Peach state. And that has come to pass, but Biden's advantage there as of today is just +0.001. That is close enough that the state could go either way, but that misses that point that there are five other states between Georgia and the two current tipping point states here at FHQ. Georgia, then, is just added cushion if Biden actually wins it while taking the other states closer to the Biden in the order depicted in the Electoral College Spectrum below. But what is cushion for Biden is merely consolation for Trump if he manages to win in the Peach state, but is unable to push any further into the current Biden coalition of states beyond Georgia.

While other models have had the margin in Pennsylvania a bit wider in Biden's favor, the FHQ graduated weighted average of the Keystone state has Biden's lead there at +4.57. The new Susquehanna Polling and Research survey with Biden up five points merely confirms where FHQ already had the race there: right on the edge of the Toss up/Lean line in the Biden column. And ultimately, the results are not that different from the SP&R poll from April. But while that survey was consistent with the other polling of Pennsylvania in April, this one runs counter to (or at least tighter than) the other recent polling in the commonwealth. [It is unclear if "other" or third party candidates were included as options in the question, but both candidates lost support from the April survey to now. Where the remaining 13 percent of respondents fell was not reported.]

Finally, the Trafalgar Group had another unusually close result in a survey of another blue wall state. Earlier last week it was Michigan, but last night, a new poll of Wisconsin provided a bookend to the week. As FHQ tweeted last night, there have been seven polls in the field in the Badger state at various points during June and this survey was the only one to have shown Trump ahead. Now, this may be a start of a new trend in Wisconsin or it could be an outlier. The average margin in the remaining six polls? Just under ten points in Biden's direction. And Biden's average level of support in those polls was a little more than 49. Trump's was just under 40. Trump was running ahead of that straight average of his June support in Wisconsin as Biden was running behind his.

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.

None of the three states changed in the order on the weight of the new polling data. But Georgia rather than being the Trump state most likely to jump the partisan line into Biden's column is now the state most likely to jump into Trump's. Both Georgia and Ohio are on the Watch List below, within a point of changing categories (into the Trump toss ups).

Importantly, that the Pennsylvania poll was one that confirmed the FHQ average there meant that it retained its position as one of the tipping point states. However, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire have now essentially converged. They basically have the same average margin with Biden up a bit more than 4.5 points. But had the two states swapped spots, then Pennsylvania would have become the sole tipping point state, removing the possibility of the electoral college tie.

Needless to say, Georgia stayed on the Watch List, but traded possible outcomes upon new polling being released. Maine also drifted off the List. Again, with just one poll out of the Pine Tree state thus far, it is anchored to other states that finished near it in the 2016 election. That pulled the average margin there below Biden +9 and drew the state off the List in the process.

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 Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
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 (6/26/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/25/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/24/20)

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