Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Electoral College Map (6/24/20)

Update for June 24.

Wednesday brought with it the release of a trio of polls out of a handful of toss up states currently shaded in light blue here at FHQ. With that came the possibility of some changes. But as was the case with the Texas survey released a day ago, these latest polls of Biden toss up states maintained the status quo in each more than anything else.  However, that was more true in North Carolina and Ohio than it was for Wisconsin where the margin ran well ahead of where the average gap here at FHQ is at the moment.

Polling quick hits:
North Carolina:
Public Policy Polling was in the field in North Carolina earlier this week and again found former Vice President Joe Biden to be ahead of President Donal Trump. And while the two point edge is consistent with both recent polling in the Tar Heel state and the average lead Biden holds there, it was a bit of a contraction from the poll the firm released earlier in June. That may or may not be statistical noise between the two surveys, but PPP has had Biden marginally ahead of Trump in all of its 2020 polling of North Carolina.

Similarly, the Quinnipiac survey of Ohio had Biden just in front of Trump which is also in line with the average margin here at FHQ (Biden +0.4). The Buckeye state remains the closest state between the two major party candidates and is the state most likely to alter the current 352-186 electoral college projection. And as odd as it might seem, Ohio has only been surveyed on the presidential race six times in calendar 2020. Typically, the electoral college bellwether has been polled quite a bit more frequently and provides a clearer picture on the state of the race there. But it is not as if the handful of surveys there have oscillated that much. All have shown a race between Biden and Trump within four points.

Polling frequency has not been an issue in Wisconsin in 2020, but that was probably never going to be the case with it or any of the blue wall states that drifted over into the Republican column four years ago. And with the exception of a couple of Change Research surveys, all of the polls conducted in the Badger state since the last Marquette survey there have pointed to a margin closer to double digits in Biden's favor than another nail biter as in 2016. This latest Marquette poll falls in that range as well. It along with the stream of recent polling has pushed Wisconsin further away from the partisan line on the Electoral College Spectrum below and closer to Lean Biden territory. But it is not there yet.

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 279 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.

While one will always take any new data out of a group of battleground states, the introduction of today's polls did little to alter the outlook depicted above on the map. But the Wisconsin survey did push the Badger state past Florida, deeper into Biden's coalition of states. Despite the two states swapping positions, Florida remained the tipping point state where Biden crosses 270 electoral votes (or where Trump would surpass that threshold if he were to win all of the states in various shades of red plus the Biden toss ups up to and including the Sunshine state).

And given that the North Carolina and Ohio surveys mostly confirmed the averages that had already been established in each, they both retained their positions on the Spectrum, the two blue states right up against the partisan line.

Although the Watch List stayed the same as it was a day ago, Wisconsin moved closer to being included. Both Wisconsin and Nevada have average margins just under four points and are just off the List at this time.

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 Strong Trump
to Lean 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.

Related posts:
The Electoral College Map (6/23/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/22/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/20/20)

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