Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/25/20)

Update for August 25.

The Republican National Convention enters day two today with just ten weeks now separating this presidential race from election day. But the polls added at FHQ today all came from states that have favored Joe Biden from the jump, all were in the field during or just after the virtual Democratic confab a week ago, and all were consistent with previous polling or existing (FHQ) averages in each. None of that adds up to big sweeping changes. But in a couple of deep blue states -- Biden's home of Delaware and New York -- the updates were helpful in contextualizing both with respect to the swings witnessed from 2016 to now.

And no, the Empire state does not appear to be moving into a more competitive space, contra some recent claims.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 58, Trump 37)
Public Policy Polling dropped into the First state to conduct the first survey there since January. And things really have not changed all that much. Unsurprisingly, the Democratic nominee (and favorite son) is doing quite well in Delaware. Yet, even with a 21 point lead, the former vice president has only matched the average share Democratic presidential candidates have received there over the last three cycles. And while Biden has gained five points on Hillary Clinton's showing in Delaware four years ago, the president has lost nearly five off his. That makes the swing in Delaware a bit above average.

(Biden 48, Trump 44)
The North Carolina-based polling firm, Public Policy Polling, was also in the field in Florida over the weekend (which FHQ was surprised to see was their first time conducting a public poll there in calendar 2020). But the survey was not all that inconsistent with the current FHQ averages frr both candidates in the Sunshine state. In fact, when those averages are rounded, they come to Biden 48, Trump 44. Understandably, that hardly shook Florida from its position as a state flirting with the line between the Biden Toss Up and Lean categories.

New York
(Biden 63, Trump 32)
The third of Public Policy Polling's trio of weekend surveys was in the Empire state. If not for the April Siena poll of the state, this would have marked both Biden's high water mark in New York and his largest margin in a poll there in calendar 2020. Instead, it is more evidence that New York is among the bluest of states. The Trump share is right on his New York average at FHQ, but in this poll, Biden is running a bit ahead of his. But that is with a decent number of undecideds still out there.

North Carolina
(Biden 49, Trump 46)
Finally, Morning Consult fielded a survey in the Tar Heel state that stretched through the duration of the Democratic convention and into the weekend following it. And like many recent polls of North Carolina, it fell in a relatively tight range of Biden +4 to Trump +2. As FHQ said a day ago about in a synopsis of where things stand in Texas, North Carolina is one of those states that is simply close, but unlike Texas is tipped fairly consistently in the former vice president's direction. And while Biden may be a bit ahead of his averages there in this poll, Trump is near enough his.

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. The tipping point cell is shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

Today's new polls add new understanding about where this presidential race currently stands, and it is not more than a stone's throw away from where it has been: showing Biden comfortably enough ahead to have a more than 80 electoral vote cushion in the projected electoral college tally. Now again, the race still has 70 days to go, so that can change. But it is remarkable just how stable things have been. New York and the two Biden toss ups all kept their positions on the Electoral College Spectrum above, but Delaware shifted even further into Biden's coalition of states, pushing three more cells over into the far left column.

However, the Watch List remained unchanged from a day ago. The same 12 states and districts that were within a fraction of a point of changing categories are still there, joined by underpolled Nevada. Those states and districts are the ones to watch. But even then, if the objective is to witness change in the overall tally, then that list is pared down to just three. Georgia, Iowa and Ohio are the states that are positioned closest to the partisan line and most likely to alter the projected number of electoral votes for each major party candidate.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 117.

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 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.

Recent posts:
The Electoral College Map (8/24/20)

One Thing About Convention Bounces

The Electoral College Map (8/22/20)

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