Monday, September 14, 2020

The Electoral College Map (9/14/20)

Update for September 14.

Changes (September 14)
Nebraska CD2
Toss Up Biden
Lean Biden
The countdown to election day continues as just 50 days separate the 2020 presidential campaign from November 3. There was no fanfare to mark the occasion, certainly not on the polling front. Like Sunday, there were just two polls added to the mix, a couple of western states neither of which looked all that competitive. And that fact is more surprising in Toss Up Arizona where Biden's ten point advantage upped the margin enough in the Grand Canyon state to nudge Nebraska's second congressional district back over into Lean Biden territory. Again, with scant polling out of the Omaha-centered district, the averages there are linked to states that finished around it in 2016. The swings that have hit states like Arizona, Florida and Michigan, for example, have some bearing on deciding the positioning of NE CD2. And that wide margin was just enough to make the district a lean again just two days after it drifted over into the toss up category. The issue is less that the district is a toss up or lean, but more that it is positioned right on that line between the two categories.

And that is not without significance. For now, NE CD2 sits just inside the lower end of the Lean Biden category.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 52, Trump 42)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.47]
OH Predictive Insights was last in the field in Arizona back at the beginning of August before the conventions. At that time Biden led but by a more modest -- not to mention true to the averages -- four points. In the month and some change since, the former vice president's advantage has ballooned to ten points with Biden above 50 percent. But the OH Predictive timeline has bucked the trend recently discussed in this space. Biden had more pedestrian margins in key battlegrounds in the spring but saw them increase as the summer set in. That was Biden's peak in many polls, both state-level and national. But in the time since that summer surge, Biden more or less regressed to the pre- surge mean. Well, in the OH Predictive trend line, the opposite happened. Biden was at or above 50 percent in their Arizona surveys back in April and May only to dip below that in July and August. Now, the former vice president has returned to that spring level of support, and the president has sunk to his lowest point in the series. Regardless, this one stands out from the rest of the recent polls in the field in the Grand Canyon state. Those have shown a closer race.

(Biden 50, Trump 39)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +11.62]
To the northeast of Arizona, things look much as they have in Colorado all year: comfortably in Biden's column. The Centennial state used to be like Arizona, a more consistently competitive state in the first few cycles of the 21st century. That just has not been the case in 2020 and the survey conducted by Global Strategy Group there does little to break from that. Of the 12 polls conducted in Colorado, Biden has been at or above 50 percent in ten of them while Trump has been at or below 40 percent in half. Both of those conditions are met in this poll and that really is the state of things in Colorado in 2020 in a nutshell.

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)
(279 | 265)
(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.

The map gets a slight change as the new work week gets underway, but it is a limited shift that also affects the Spectrum and Watch List. Nebraska's second district shifting back onto Lean Biden turf means that it once again joins Pennsylvania on the tipping point cell in the rank order depicted on the Spectrum. It also flips its potential switch on the List for the second time in three days. But again, please note that that may be normal for next bit as the district is so close to the five point line separating Toss Up from Lean. And as was the case today, any NE CD2 changes are likely to come not from polls of the district, but from new data out of states that were close to it in the order in 2016. Florida is already on the List below, but add Arizona and Michigan to that as well. Above average margins in polls in those states may bolster the Lean Biden positioning for the district, but any narrowing may have the opposite effect.

Where things stood at FHQ on September 14 (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 Lean Biden
to Toss Up 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 (9/13/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/12/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/11/20)

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