Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/19/20)

Update for July 19.

Another weekend day adds another couple of polls to the mix.

Polling Quick Hits:
In oft-polled Michigan, a new survey from Public Policy Polling right on the FHQ average margin in the Wolverine state did little to change things there. Michigan remains firmly planted well within the Lean Biden category. Moreover, the former vice president has been at 50 or 51 percent in all PPP polls stretching back all the way to March. This one is no different. And Biden's share of support sits at just over 49 percent in his FHQ average in the state. Clinton was neither ever at that level at all in Michigan at FHQ in 2016 nor was she on election day. Biden is additionally running more than two points ahead of her pace from November 2016. Trump, meanwhile, is about five points off his 2016 performance in the state.

South Carolina:
If yesterday's tight margin reported out of Alaska was a surprise, then this new Gravis survey of South Carolina is not far off. Trump leads Biden in the poll by just four points in the Palmetto state. There has not been a lot of survey work in South Carolina thus far in 2020 and nothing new since late May, but Biden has consistently been in the low 40s in the state until now. Trump, on the other hand, has tended to be just above the majority threshold. That remains the case for the president in the latest poll, but Biden has jumped up into the mid-40s which explains why this one has been closer than the rest. Whether that is related to the civil unrest across the country or the expanding coronavirus threat remains to be seen, but this is in line with the notion of a uniform swing. South Carolina's shift -- overall, not just in this poll -- from 2016 to now is on par with the average swing across all states: a bit more than seven points toward the Democrats in the Palmetto state.

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)
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.

Needless to say, with a margin right on the average margin here at FHQ, Michigan holds pat on the Electoral College Spectrum. And although the latest South Carolina poll reduced the margin there enough to pull the Palmetto state off the Watch List -- no longer is it on the cusp of shifting from Lean to Strong Trump -- it only pushed up one cell on the Spectrum, switching spots with Montana. That leaves South Carolina as the rough equivalent of Michigan on the Trump side of the partisan line. But the two are moving in the same direction -- toward Biden -- and not away from each other.

With no new surveys from either New Hampshire or Pennsylvania, the tipping point states stayed unchanged as well. Yes, the possibility exists that if the two candidates split those states then there would be an electoral college tie if the order of states is maintained, but Biden continues to hold down five states and their electoral votes beyond that.

Other than losing South Carolina, the Watch List is the same as it was a day ago.

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 Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
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
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 (7/18/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/17/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/16/20)

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