Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/12/20)

Update for August 12.

Wednesday dawned with yet another wave in the Change Research battleground polling and also added some new data from a handful of competitive states as well as a couple where updates are always welcome.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 53, Trump 47):
With a likely voter screen a push for leaners, Biden's six point advantage in the Grand Canyon state in the new Emerson poll there ends up being on the high side of the range of margins that has emerged from recent polling. Still, of the 23 surveys that have been in the field in Arizona since the beginning of June, only three have not found Biden ahead. That consistency has built a fairly durable lead for the former vice president. Sure, some surveys have had margins that stretched into upper single digits, but Biden's edge there has settled into and area between three and four points. As of now, Arizona stands at Biden +3.38.

(Trump 48, Biden 41):
The picture out of Kansas after the primary in the Sunflower state last week is one of a Trump advantage, but one that pales in comparison to 2016. The president's share of support in polling there has trailed off by nearly six points from his showing in the state four years ago. Meanwhile, Biden has risen to a level in Kansas on par with how Barack Obama performed (41 percent) in 2008, more than five points ahead of Hillary Clinton's pace there in 2016. All of that mean that the margin is closer, but Kansas remains a mostly comfortable state for the president. The Survey USA poll is consistent with that.

(Biden 63, Trump 27):
MassINC was back in the field in the Bay state with another survey just a couple of weeks after the firm's last poll there. And the switch from registered to likely voters in that time made a difference. Both candidates gained, but Biden tacked on six points while Trump bumped up four. When leaners were included, Biden added another two points to his already wide margin in Massachusetts. This is a blue state and that will not change in November, but Biden is running a point and a half ahead of Clinton in the FHQ averages there. Meanwhile, Trump is about five points behind where he was on election day there in 2016. Massachusetts is the state in Biden's column the most out of Trump's reach as of now.

North Carolina
(Trump 51, Biden 49):
The most recent three polls conducted in the Tar Heel state have had Trump narrowly ahead. That includes the Emerson survey released after the update yesterday. But the impact of the addition of those polls has been minimal. North Carolina is and has been a competitive state, but one tipped in the former vice president's direction. But that advantage has ticked down a few tenths of a point under Biden +2 now. No, the state is not on the Watch List below, but more polls like the recent ones will have the Old North state on a trajectory toward it if they persist.

(Biden 53, Trump 47):
Like Arizona, 23 polls have been in the field in Pennsylvania since the beginning of June. And like Arizona, only a small number -- one poll in this case -- have not found Biden in the lead there. But while the same consistency is there in the Keystone state, the margins in Biden's favor have been larger and the FHQ average lead there bigger. This new Emerson poll only confirms that, finding the commonwealth six points away from Trump at the moment. And that is consistent with Biden +5.23 point lead there in the averages. And that 5.23 points is significant. Trump has to overcome that in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in order to win what continues to be the tipping point state here at FHQ.

Change Research (early August battleground poll wave):
It is a bit of a mixed bag with respect to the latest update from Change Research in the firm's eleventh wave of battleground polling. If one focuses on the margins alone, then Biden's margins increased in three states and Trump's in the other three. That is not exactly strong evidence of any real tightening in the race in the states that are currently huddled around the tipping point. However, once one considers the small-ish sample sizes in each battleground and how much the candidates lost or gained in their respective shares of support across these six states in the last few weeks, then it really does not add up to too much. Ultimately it is a shift of a point or two one way or the other. In other words, the sort of polling variability one would expect.

Arizona: Biden 45 (-2 since late July wave), Trump 44 (-1)
Florida: Biden 50 (+2), Trump 44 (-1)
Michigan: Biden 48 (+2), Trump 43 (+1)
North Carolina: Trump 48 (+2), Biden 47 (-2)
Pennsylvania: Biden 48 (+/-0), Trump 44 (-2)
Wisconsin: Biden 47 (-1), Trump 43 (+/-0)

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
(273 | 286)
(302 | 265)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
(334 | 219)
ME CD2-1
(353 | 204)
ME CD1-1
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 plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 286 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 Pennsylvania
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state.

Little changed on either the Electoral College Spectrum or the Watch List with the addition of today's polls. Kansas shifted up a cell on the Spectrum deeper into the Lean Trump category. And that move was enough to pull the Sunflower state off the List below. And that was not the only effect of that new Kansas survey. Since there is just one poll out of Nebraska's first district, it remains tethered to shifts in states that finished around it in 2016. Kansas is one of those states and the dip there also pulled NE CD1 off the List today as well. The only other change was brought about by exchanging the registered voter sample for the likely voter version in yesterday's Critical Insights survey of Maine. That change pushed the Pine Tree state average under 11 points, placing Biden's advantage there within a fraction of a point of the Lean Biden category. Maine joins the Watch List as a result.

Those 13 states and other jurisdictions remain the ones to watch along with underpolled Nevada.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 104.

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 Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
Maine CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Toss Up Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean 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 (8/11/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/10/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/9/20)

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