Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/19/20)

Update for August 19.

Changes (August 19)
Strong Trump
Lean Trump
With the presidential nomination roll call vote behind it, the Democratic National Convention moves into day three with its nominee having shed the presumptive tag. It will be a bit before any effects from this convention are witnessed in the polls both national and state-level, but that has not stopped the slow and steady release of surveys this week. A series of four battleground state polls from OnMessage and the first 2020 survey of Louisiana highlighted the day with the latter triggering a slight change in the Pelican state's classification.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Trump 51, Biden 48):
The first in the wave of battleground state polls from OnMessage was in Arizona and it stands out, showing Trump in the lead. And that advantage is all about the Trump number. The president has not been at or above 50 percent in a survey of the Grand Canyon state since a late January poll and has settled in at a little above 44 percent in the FHQ averages. And while that high water mark for Trump in Arizona polling stands out, Biden's standing in the poll is right around his average share of support as FHQ measures it.

(Biden 49, Trump 49):
Further east in another sunbelt state, OnMessage found Biden and Trump tied at 49. And like the survey by the firm in Arizona, the Florida poll fell close to the FHQ average in the state for Biden while it had Trump running five points ahead of his average share of support. The president has been in the upper 40s in Sunshine state polls conducted in 2020, but those were surveys that were in the field in May and before.

(Trump 50, Biden 43):
ALG Research became the first pollster to drop into Louisiana and gauge opinion on the presidential race there in calendar 2020. Not surprisingly, Trump was ahead in a state Democrats last carried in 1996, but as has been the case across the board so far in 2020, the swing from 2016 to now has been in the Democrats' direction. But the 12 point shift this poll indicates relative to the 2016 results is on the high side. It is about four points higher than the average shift across other states.

(Biden 50, Trump 46):
Unlike the other OnMessage polls in this August wave, the firm found Biden ahead in Pennsylvania. And while both candidates overperform their FHQ averages in the Keystone state in this poll, this one does not find Trump in a space well beyond where he has been in recent polling there. And, of course, this does little to alter the state of the race in the commonwealth through lens of the FHQ graduated weighted average.

(Biden 47, Trump 47):
The final OnMessage survey in Wisconsin fits the pattern in the Arizona and Florida polls. It was consistent on Biden's level of support in the Badger state, but found Trump well ahead of both his FHQ average in the state and where the president has tended to be in the recent rash of surveys coming out of Wisconsin. But in this case, the level to which Trump support was inflated relative to other polls was less severe than in either Arizona or Florida.

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.

Yes, the OnMessage polls appear to be outliers at this point, but even with that data included, the picture in those four battleground states hardly changed through the lens of FHQ's methodology. And while Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all held steady in their positions on the Electoral College Spectrum above, it was the initial poll of Louisiana that forced the one change today. But it was a small change. Louisiana, too, stayed in the exact same spot on the Spectrum, but saw the average margin there dip just below ten points, pushing the Pelican state into the Lean Trump category. But instead of being on the Watch List just above the ten point line, Louisiana stays on it but just below that threshold. Again, it was a small change, but it changed Louisiana's shade on the map.

The same 13 states and districts that have populated the Watch List recently remained on it today. Those jurisdictions along with underpolled Nevada are still the places to watch for new polling data.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 111.

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 Lean Trump
to Strong 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 (8/18/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/17/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/15/20)

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