Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Electoral College Map (9/13/20)

Update for September 13.

Sunday brought a couple of new polls from a pair of target states that are familiar territory if one read Saturday's update. To top it off, both YouGov polls in Arizona and Minnesota were both quite close to the existing FHQ averages for both Biden and Trump in the two states. That was not necessary a recipe for change, significant or otherwise, in the averages around here, but it does help to further clarify the state of the race in these two states.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 47, Trump 44)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.28]
The latest YouGov battleground tracker survey of Arizona is its first update there since an early July poll, a period during which Joe Biden enjoyed a bit of a surge nationwide. That surge has ebbed in some states through the lens of other pollsters' efforts, but that is not exactly clear here. In fact, the former vice president and Trump were knotted at 46 two months ago. Biden has subsequently broken that tie in the series, inching out to a lead just within the margin of error. Yet, the Biden advantage in the state has consistently been above three points here at FHQ. This did little to change that. The survey actually further buttressed the existing averages in the Grand Canyon state since it tracked so closely with the 48-44 (rounded) lead Biden has there in the FHQ averages.

(Biden 50, Trump 41)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.58]
Different day, different pollster. But the results were the exact same today as they were on Saturday in Minnesota. The YouGov battleground tracker, like the Siena poll a day ago, found Biden up by nine. And like the Arizona poll above it tracks very closely to the FHQ average shares of support for both candidates. Trump runs a little behind his average in the survey but Biden's is right on target. Unlike Arizona, this is the first time that YouGov was in the field in Minnesota, so there is no direct point of comparison. However, of all the polls that have been conducted in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in September, Biden has been at or above 50 percent in half of them while Trump has struggled to break into the mid-40s.

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
(272 | 286)
NE CD2-1
(279 | 266)
(308 | 259)
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
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 Trump'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.

Needless to say, with a couple of additions that so closely reflected the pre-existing averages in Arizona and Minnesota, not much change at FHQ on the precipice of a new work week. The map, Spectrum and Watch List all remain unchanged from a day ago. That means that Pennsylvania retains the distinction of being the tipping point state, where Biden crosses over 270 electoral votes or Trump would if his campaign is able to change course in the states between the partisan line and the Keystone state. Yet, Pennsylvania continues to be a Lean Biden state, more than five points out of the president's grasp. That is the ground he has to make up over the next 51 days.

Where things stood at FHQ on September 13 (or close to it) in...

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 Lean Trump
to Toss Up Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Toss Up Trump
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 (9/12/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/11/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/10/20)

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