Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/15/20)

Update for July 15.

Changes (July 15)
Nebraska CD2
Toss Up Biden
Lean Biden
Toss Up Biden
Lean Biden
What is new on Wednesday?

The middle of the work week saw the latest wave of battleground polls from Change Research and had a Tuesday leftover from Texas. And those seven polls were not without consequence as one will see off to the right and below.

Yes, after a couple of new surveys were added to the Pennsylvania data the Keystone state inched over the toss up/lean line on Biden's side of the ledger. Similarly, Nebraska's second congressional district -- even without a new poll -- moved similarly. [Recall that the averages in states (or districts in states that split their electoral votes) with no polls or just one poll are determined by using that one poll and/or the 2020 swings in states that finished near them in the 2016.] All of the states that finished around NE CD2 in 2016 are, for the most part, well into the Biden toss up (or in some cases lean) category at this point in the 2020 race. The recent poll out of the 2nd in the Cornhusker state had Biden up seven points, but the FHQ average margin is just above five points at this time.

Moreover, those two shifts into the Lean Biden area mean that Biden now has 269 electoral votes in his strong and lean states alone. That obviously does not count the toss up states that are tipped in the former vice president's direction, the six state cushion he currently enjoys via the FHQ graduated weighted averages.

Polling Quick Hits:
FHQ will not spend too much time on the latest in the series of Change Research battleground surveys. They just did not offer that much of a difference in most cases from the late June wave. That was true in Arizona where Biden's advantage shrunk by one point in that time. It is not that there is no story there. Biden remains over 50 percent for the second consecutive Change survey there. And that not changing is noteworthy.

Further east in the Sunshine state, the story is much the same through the lens of the Change Research waves. Biden is still over 50 percent in Florida as well and actually saw his edge there grow by a couple of points since late June. And the reason for the increase is a decay in Trump's support. But again, it is fairly small and within the margin of error. Yet, Biden continuing to hover at or above the majority mark in a state that typically can comes down to the wire is no small deal.

Change Research also saw pretty much the same race in Michigan. Trump's support grew by a point since late June, and that is it. Importantly, Change continues to find Biden under 50 percent in the Wolverine state, something that breaks from a number of other recent polls over the last couple of months that had Biden well over 50 percent. But at FHQ, Biden's average share of support is just under 49 percent. The Change survey is consistent with that.

North Carolina:
The big change in the, well, Change Research series this time around is in North Carolina where Biden's advantage decreased from seven points in late June to just one point now. And the big shift is in the Biden number. While the former vice president was above 50 percent in the second June wave, he was below it and just above Trump in this one. What was an outlier in June is more consistent with other Tar Heel state polling this time around.

Pennsylvania looks a lot like Florida above. Biden's above 50 percent and Trump's share nudged down a couple of points since the last Change survey in the commonwealth. But the focus here should probably be on the new Monmouth survey of the Keystone state that offered a number of different samples: one with registered voters and two others with likely voter samples assuming low and high turnout elections. Biden's advantage decreased from the registered to high turnout likely voter sample and again in moving down the line to the low turnout sample. No matter which one one plugs into the FHQ graduated weighted average, Pennsylvania pushes over into the Lean Biden category. On the low end the average margin is just beyond five points, but on the high end of the range -- using the registered voters sample -- Pennsylvania's margin increases enough to push it past Wisconsin on the Electoral College Spectrum below.

NOTE: FHQ has plugged the low turnout likely voter sample into the data to determine the average reflect in the graphics today.

In another non-Change Research survey, there was an additional Gravis poll of Texas conducted for One America News. Whereas a number of these Gravis/OAN collaborations have produced Trump-favorable results, this one is in line with some recent polling of the Lone Star state. Yes, Biden has been ahead in some polls there, but the former vice president has traded leads in polls of Texas with the president over the last month or so. And again, it bears repeating that if Texas is one of the closest states in November, then Biden has already likely locked up the electoral college. That is the bottom line.

For now, this Gravis poll is just a little more Trump-favorable than the average margin at FHQ.

And the final Change Research poll in Wisconsin has Biden drifting below the 50 percent mark since the last wave and his lead narrowing by a couple of points. But a six point advantage in a state Trump won by less than one in 2016 is still a decent spot to be in if the presumptive nominee wants to reclaim at least part of the blue wall that crumbled four years ago. And yes, it is still July.

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
(269 | 289)
(273 | 269)
(302 | 265)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
(334 | 219)
(352 | 204)
ME CD1-1
NE 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.

Despite the introduction of new polls in seven toss up states (as FHQ's method defines them), there was no disruption to the order among the states on the Electoral College Spectrum above. What is different is the aforementioned shift of Pennsylvania and NE CD2 into the Lean Biden category. But importantly, both jurisdictions remain on the Watch List below, only now both are within a point of shifting back into the toss up category on Biden's side of the ledger. The Texas poll was also enough to just nudge it off the Watch List. The Lone Star state is now just more than one point in Trump's direction. Any new information could change that however.

The tipping point states -- New Hampshire and Pennsylvania -- remain the same, a constant stretching back into June.

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
Potential Switch
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Lean Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
Nebraska CD1
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
New Hampshire
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up 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 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:
The Electoral College Map (7/14/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/13/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/2/20)

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