Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/28/20)

Update for July 28.

Changes (July 28)
FloridaLean BidenToss Up Biden
OhioToss Up BidenToss Up Trump
PennsylvaniaToss Up BidenLean Biden
The Tuesday 14 weeks before election day brought with it a slew of new polls. In fact, 35 new surveys were added to the FHQ polling dataset for 2020 from 19 states. That included a couple of 12 state waves from Morning Consult and another 7 state series from Public Policy Polling. There was even a Maine survey that included the first look at the races on the congressional district level.

And all that new data ushered in a few changes in this space. One will forgive FHQ for glossing over the Florida and Pennsylvania shifts. Both continue to hover around the border between Lean and Toss Up on the Biden side of the partisan line. But the noticeable change is Ohio jumping the partisan line into Toss Up Trump territory. Other than a brief period at the end of June and the beginning of July when Georgia drifted over to Biden's side of the ledger, the race has fairly steadily been stuck on a Biden 352, Trump 186 tally. That changes today. The Buckeye state has been on the Watch List for the majority of these updates over the last month plus, but has stubbornly stayed ever so slightly tipped in Biden's direction. Now, the opposite is true. How stubborn that bent is, however, remains to be seen. Ohio has been underpolled for the most party -- at least compared to past cycles -- and the two Morning Consult surveys of the Buckeye state were more Trump-favorable than a lot of recent polling there.


Polling Quick Hits:
Massachusetts (Biden 55, Trump 23):
The funny thing about the MassINC Polling Group survey of the Bay state is that Biden received his lowest share of support in the limited number of polls conducted there so far in 2020. And the former vice president still led by 32 points. That is because Trump had his lowest share of support in Massachusetts this year as well. The data are nice, but only confirm what was already known about Massachusetts. Yes, it will be a blue state in the fall, but it will be among the bluest states. It had held down the most Democratic cell on the Electoral College Spectrum below, but this poll actually reduced the margin there and yielded that spot to Hawaii.

Maine CD1 (Biden 55, Trump 35):
Both polls from Maine today -- the Public Policy Polling survey (linked below) and this one from Colby College -- are right in the area where the Pine Tree state has settled in this race: just on the Strong side of the Strong/Lean Biden line. And while nothing in either poll changed that, what the Colby poll offered was the initial glimpse at the race on the congressional district level. There were no surprises in CD1. It continues to be a safe jurisdiction for the Democrats. And, in fact, the Biden +20 margin was close to the uniform swing projection FHQ had made based on the shift since 2016 in states that had finished close to the district.

Maine CD2 (Biden 45, Trump 42):
But the real news may have been from the more rural, northern district of the two in Maine; the one Trump won by nearly 10 points in 2016. There, the picture is different through the lens of this survey. Biden may lead by three, but combining that shift with the changes in states that finished near ME CD2 in 2016 still gives the edge to Trump. But that advantage has shrunk and is trending toward the Watch List. Bear in mind that the average shift from 2016 across all states is now a little less than eight points. If one were to shave that average shift off Trump's 2016 margin in ME CD2, then it ends up a with a margin only a little more than the Trump +1.98 at which FHQ now has it calculated.

New Jersey (Biden 51, Trump 33):
Like Massachusetts above, New Jersey, too, is in no danger of being anything other than a safe state for Joe Biden in November. But the update in the Garden state from DKC Analytics is welcome. The 18 point advantage there for the former vice presidential matches the existing gap between the major party candidates in FHQ's graduated weighted averages.

South Carolina (Trump 50, Biden 45):
This one actually was released a day ago but did not quite make it before the update yesterday. But ALG Research, like the brilliant corners survey yesterday, found Trump right at the 50 percent mark in a state the president carried by 14 with 55 percent in 2016. The Palmetto state is unlikely to turn blue any time soon unless the bottom truly drops out on Trump, but the two surveys from the state released in the last 24 hours show about an eight point swing since 2016. And again, that is right there where FHQ has the average swing nationwide.

Morning Consult (May | July waves):
Rather than go through these polls one by one, FHQ will handle them collectively as has become the custom around here when large waves of polls are released. The focus in those cases should always be on the order of the states and how they match up with the established rank ordering as depicted on the Spectrum below.

The big thing between the May and July waves is that while Biden and Trump split the 12 states in May, Biden had taken the lead in 10 of the 12 in this latest round. On average Biden gained a little more than 3.5 points across the dozen states from May to July.

Ohio: Trump +8
Texas: Trump +7
North Carolina: Trump +3
Georgia: Trump +2
Arizona: Trump +2
Florida: Trump +1
Pennsylvania: Biden +4
Wisconsin: Biden +5
Minnesota: Biden +7
Michigan: Biden +8
Colorado: Biden +8
Virginia: Biden +10

Ohio: Trump +3
North Carolina: Tied
Georgia: Biden +1
Texas: Biden +2
Florida: Biden +3
Minnesota: Biden +3
Arizona: Biden +7
Wisconsin: Biden +7
Pennsylvania: Biden +8
Michigan: Biden +10
Virginia: Biden +11
Colorado: Biden +13

And the order largely holds up in both. Ohio stands out as a state that looked a little more Trump-favorable in these polls than elsewhere, but the Buckeye state is in a fairly tight cluster with Georgia and Texas with North Carolina a bit more distant at the moment. Other than Ohio, Minnesota was the only state among the 12 to actually move in the president's direction since May. But it remains a Lean Biden state and the one most tilted in his direction among that group. Arizona looked like an outlier in the May wave, but swung hard toward Biden in this latest survey conducted by Morning Consult. Split the difference between those two polls and one pretty much has where Arizona is now at FHQ: Biden +3.45.

Public Policy Polling (July wave):
Alaska: Trump +6
Montana: Trump +5
Iowa: Trump +1
Georgia: Biden +1
North Carolina: Biden +3
Maine: Biden +11
Colorado: Biden +13

This group of polls may be more interesting for any Senate or gubernatorial polling simultaneously done with the presidential trial heats. But the bottom line is that the rank ordering in this series aligns with where FHQ has them among each. None of the seven did anything to uproot any of the states from their current positions, either the categories each is in or their spots on the Spectrum below.

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
(269 | 289)
(298 | 269)
(302 | 240)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
(334 | 219)
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 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 Florida
 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 Florida 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, Florida and Pennsylvania are the tipping point states.

The take home today is that the shuffling among those states around the Lean/Toss Up Biden line has once again affected the tipping point in the order. Once again, there is no one tipping point state. If Trump were to mount a comeback and win all of the states up to Florida in the order then the president would have 269 electoral votes. The tipping point, then, is just between Florida and Pennsylvania. A candidate would have to win both states to get to 270.

The order on the Spectrum remained much the same. Obviously, Ohio pushing over into Trump territory is noteworthy, but so too is the fact that it did that and passed Georgia in the process. The Peach state is now the closest state. Both are on the Watch List below, within a point of shifting to Toss Up Biden.

Speaking of the List, Maine, Minnesota and Montana all came off today with the addition of new polls.

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

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 89.
Days since the last New Hampshire poll was in the field: 42.

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 Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Lean 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 Trump
to Toss Up Biden
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 (7/27/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/26/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/25/20)

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