Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/9/20)

Update for August 9.

With just 86 days until election day, the race for the White House has largely stabilized through the lens of FHQ's graduated weighted averages on the state level. That is particularly true in the most heavily polled states at or near the tipping point in the Electoral College. Of those states most likely to be the pivotal state -- Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- all currently have a margin right around or above five percent favoring Joe Biden. [Florida is just under five percent.]

And that outlook was not affected all that much by battleground tracking polls from YouGov in two of those states: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Polling Quick Hits:
Pennsylvania (Biden 49, Trump 43):
YouGov was back in the field in the Keystone state and showed little movement one way or the other there. Actually, since the firm last polled the state in March the margin has stayed exactly as it is now: Biden +6. There was more movement between the February and March YouGov surveys than there was in the five months between March and now. Regardless, the advantage is consistent with other polls favoring Biden there of late. And the FHQ average margin for the former vice president stands at 5.1 points.

Wisconsin (Biden 48, Trump 42):
Meanwhile, further west in another blue wall state -- Wisconsin -- things appear similar on the surface. The six point edge Biden enjoys in Pennsylvania is replicated in the Badger state. However, the underlying movement within the polls YouGov has conducted in the state has been different. Whereas the increased Biden lead happened early -- between February and March -- in the sequence in Pennsylvania, that timeframe saw the status quo maintained in Wisconsin. Biden had the lead, but it was a much more modest two points that carried over from February at March. But the growth in Biden's margin over Trump expanded in the five months since the coronavirus really took hold here in the United States. That sort of shift has been felt in the FHQ averages in Wisconsin as well. The average margin there has pushed up to 6.21 points toward Biden. And the latest YouGov survey only confirmed that.

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 | 285)
(302 | 265)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
ME CD1-1
(334 | 219)
ME CD2-1
(353 | 204)
NE 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 285 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.

Since both new YouGov surveys were in line with not only recent polling in those states but the overall FHQ averages in both, little changed here. Both continue to be Lean Biden states and Pennsylvania also has continued to hold down the distinction of being the tipping point state. That that is true says much about the state of the race. A number of the states Trump will need to get close to 270 are toss ups, but the one(s) he need(s) to crest above that threshold are now more than five points away from him.

Needless to say both the Electoral College Spectrum above and the Watch List below remained as they were for the last update on Friday.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 101.

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 Trump
to Lean Trump
Maine CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Lean Biden
to Strong Biden
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
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 (8/7/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/6/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/5/20)

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