Friday, June 19, 2020

The Electoral College Map (6/19/20)

Update for June 19.

With 137 days until Election Day, the work week closed with a couple of new polls added to the mix in FHQ's graduated weighted averages of state-level polls in the 2020 presidential election race. It is difficult to call that a trickle when it is indicative a fairly light period of polling in the race. That will certainly change as November approaches. But for now, it is the information that is out there.

Polling quick hits:
New Hampshire:
FHQ spent the first week rolling out these electoral college updates bemoaning the fact that there was a lack of polling in a handful of states where some new data would likely prove helpful. New Hampshire was among them. And fortunately St. Anselm answered the call and not only added that data, but also clarified the picture of things in the Granite state. Well, clarified things in the Granite state relative to other states around which New Hampshire has ended up in past cycles after the dust settled following the election. And that movement is consistent with other states during this current period of the campaign: the margin in a state that favored Biden before the separate coronavirus and protests shocks has widened.

But to be clear, within pollster changes -- from one St. Anselm poll to the next -- actually saw something of a contraction in the margin. Trump's share of support remained static while Biden lost a point since the April poll. But while that was a status quo-maintaining result, it had the effect of broadening the gap between Biden and Trump in the FHQ averages in the state. Meaningfully, it pushed New Hampshire closer to "Lean Biden" territory. Granted, the bottom line is still that there has not been a great deal of polling in the Granite state in 2020. The new data helps, but more of it from a more widely dispersed group of pollsters would help more.

North Carolina:
Having logged all the calendar year 2020 state polls in a dataset over the past weekend, FHQ must confess that there were not a whole lot of Gravis polls among them. If memory serves, this may be the first state poll the firm has rolled out this year. Regardless, the new poll from the Florida-based pollster finds Trump ahead by three. However, Trump was right in that 45-47 percent range where he has more often than not been in the Tar Heel state all year. The divergent part of this survey was the Biden number; one that was well below the 47-49 percent range the former vice president has been in during the month of June in North Carolina. It was more consistent with Biden's share of support in the state in May.

And while the Gravis survey reduced the margin there, North Carolina remains tilted a little more than a point toward Biden in the FHQ averages, firmly in the toss up category.

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 CD1-1
ME CD1-1
NE CD2-1
ME CD2-1
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 Florida (Biden's toss up states up to Florida), he would have 289 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 Florida
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state.

As was described above, the new data out of New Hampshire pushed the Granite state further away from the partisan line on the Electoral College Spectrum above and onto the Watch List below. New Hampshire now joins Minnesota and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district as states (or other jurisdictions) where the average is within a point of moving them into another category, the "Lean Biden" category in this case.

North Carolina maintained its spot among the Biden toss ups just on the other side of Ohio from the partisan line. Here at FHQ North Carolina is as much on the Biden side of the partisan line as Georgia is on Trump's side.

And it should come as no surprise that Florida kept its position as the tipping point state. There just were not enough new polls -- especially among the states that look the closest at this point -- to change that today.

Finally, while there was new data out of New Hampshire, Nevada remains underpolled and Minnesota is lacking too. It would not hurt to get an update from either in the next week.

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
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
Nebraska CD1
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
New Hampshire
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong 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 the thad 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.

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