Monday, July 27, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/27/20)

Update for July 27.

Changes (July 27)
Strong Biden
Lean Biden
The new work week opened with fewer than 100 days until the election on November 3. And it started with a modest change on the map in an area of the country -- the blue wall midwest -- that is increasingly in Lean Biden blue. While Minnesota may join that group of states today, it is on the upper end of the category and within a fraction of a point of pushing back over into Strong Biden territory.

Polling Quick Hits:
Minnesota (Biden 49, Trump 44):
The latest from Trafalgar Group was a survey recently in the field in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and it is quite the departure from the picture painted in the Fox poll of the state released last week. Whereas Fox found a race with Biden up double digits, Trafalgar had Biden at his lowest point in any poll of Minnesota and Trump at his peak. The poll also matches the same topline numbers from the Mason-Dixon survey from May. But it should be noted that Trafalgar polls on the whole have been decidedly tilted in Trump's direction. On average, Trafalgar surveys are four and a third points more Trump leaning than the FHQ average margins in the six states the firm has surveyed in 2020 thus far. The difference between this poll and FHQ is just a bit more than that average house effect at Trafalgar.

North Carolina (Biden 51, Trump 44):
Marist last conducted a poll in the Tar Heel state back in February and showed a 49-45 Biden lead then. Things have changed poll over poll, but the latest Marist survey in North Carolina shows a wider and nearly doubled Biden advantage with the former vice president up over the 50 percent barrier. It is just the fourth (of 32) poll with Biden north of the majority threshold in the state, and three of those four have been conducted since late June. Yet, this Marist survey depicts a level of Biden support that runs about four points ahead of his average share of support in North Carolina. Trump's share in this survey is right on his FHQ average in the state.

South Carolina (Trump 50, Biden 43):
The one bright spot for Trump came from just over the border of North Carolina. And while Trump was up seven points in the brilliant corners Research and Strategies survey that cuts the president's margin in the 2016 election in South Carolina in half. And that is a microcosm of the presidential race nationwide. Support has swung almost eight points toward the Democrats since 2016. In South Carolina, it is seven points. This poll almost identically matched the FHQ average in the Palmetto state and that kept it pretty much where is was before this survey was added to the dataset.

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
(278 | 289)
(298 | 260)
(302 | 240)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
(334 | 219)
(352 | 204)
NE CD1-1
ME CD1-1
NE CD2-1
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 Florida (Biden's toss up states plus the Pennsylvania and Florida), he would have 278 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 Florida
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state.

Yes, the Trafalgar survey of Minnesota reduced the average margin there enough nudge the state over the Strong/Lean line on the Biden side of the ledger. But in the rank ordering of states, Minnesota only shifted down a couple of cells on the Electoral College Spectrum above and is only just under the 10 point barrier now. That places Minnesota back on the Watch List below. The state is only barely in the Lean Biden category now. It is a change, but a marginal one.

The new surveys in the Carolinas did nothing to alter their standings on the Spectrum and both remain off the Watch List.

There were also no new polls from Nevada nor New Hampshire today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 88.
Days since the last New Hampshire poll was in the field: 41.

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 Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
from Lean Biden
to Strong 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 Toss Up Biden
to Lean 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 (7/26/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/25/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/24/20)

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