Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/2/20)

Update for July 2.

Changes (July 2)
Lean Trump
Strong Trump
A handful of polls did not quite make it in under the wire before yesterday's update was posted. But those polls from out of Arizona, Michigan and Montana have now been incorporated and made some difference in sparsely surveyed Montana. The Treasure state has now shifted from Lean Trump into Strong Trump territory. And while that bolsters the Strong total of electoral votes for Trump, it further thins out the Lean category on the Trump side of the ledger.

But then again, it has been fairly remarkable throughout the two weeks plus of these updates just how condensed the Lean categories on both sides of the partisan line on the Electoral College Spectrum below. The strong categories on both side represent the largest total, then there are just a handful of Lean states bookended by another significant cache of electoral votes in the Toss Up area. That means there are certainly places to play offense or defense, but that action is happening in mostly in Toss Up rather than into Lean states.

Polling Quick Hits:
Gravis Marketing conducted a poll for One American News Network in Arizona and the results are comparable to those from the survey the firm had out in the field in North Carolina for OANN recently. As with that poll of the Tar Heel state, this one in Arizona looks more like an outlier than not. It is not that Trump cannot hold the lead in Arizona, but rather that he has not approached the 49 percent share he had in this Gravis poll since a February survey by Fabrizio, Lee and Associates had the president at 50 percent. Other than that poll, Trump has just not been all that near the upper 40s in Arizona. And that is the main difference in this poll because Biden's share, while a little lower than some recent polling in Arizona, is at least within the range of support the former vice president has received there. Still, despite the Trump advantage in the survey, the Grand Canyon state remains firmly rooted in Biden Toss Up territory.

That Change Research survey of Michigan from yesterday may have been the only battleground state poll in the wave that had Biden below 50 percent support, but the latest Public Policy Polling survey of the Wolverine state had him right at the majority mark. Michigan, very simply, continues to be the one blue wall flip from 2016 that has been consistently in Biden's favor in 2016. To be sure, the others -- Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- are on the Biden side of the partisan line, but the margins there have tended to be less favorable to Biden than in Michigan. This poll from PPP did little to change that.

Meanwhile, as mentioned above, Montana pushed in the opposite direction that a lot of polling over the last few weeks. That is to say, on the weight of another wide margin in a University of Montana survey, moved the average more toward Trump than it has been the case for other states' averages. However, Trump's share of support did decay since UM was in the field last in February while Biden gained the four points that the president lost. Nevertheless, Montana does not appear to be a pick up opportunity for the former vice president (even if there have only been three total polls of Montana in 2020).

Finally, results from a couple of polls out of Texas depicted a race that is very much competitive. On the one hand, Public Policy Polling had Biden ahead by a couple of points, but on the other, YouGov found Trump up four. Average those two and one gets a race that favors Trump by a point. The FHQ graduated weighted average for Texas right now? Trump +1.54. While PPP had Biden toward the upper end of his range in Texas polling, YouGov had Trump near his. The bottom line remains that Texas is competitive. And if Texas is competitive, then, given a hypothetical uniform swing from 2016, there are quite a few states that have built a projected cushion for Biden in the electoral vote tally. At this point, Trump needs Texas a whole lot more than Biden does.

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
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.

The new survey of Montana shifted the Treasure state seven cells deeper into Trump's coalition of states on the Electoral College Spectrum. That may seem like a significant shift but it happened within a group of states -- the lean states to the bottom of the column where Montana now resides -- that are all within five points of each other. That is a pretty tight range. The other three states held the line, sticking in their same spots from a day ago on the Spectrum.

New Hampshire and Pennsylvania continued to hold down the tipping point in the quest for 270 electoral votes.

Montana's move did not place it on the Watch List below, but it had the effect of pushing Louisiana and Nebraska CD1 off the list. The latter two jurisdictions have not been surveyed to this point in 2020 and are tethered to states that finished around them in (and their movement since) 2016. Montana was one of those states near each four years ago, so the new poll there increased the margins in Louisiana and Nebraska CD1. But all of that is happening in territory that is safely in Trump's column, not anywhere close to the states most likely up for grabs in November.

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 Lean Biden
to Strong Biden
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 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 (7/1/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/30/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/29/20)

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