Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Electoral College Map (6/30/20)

Changes across the month of June. Update below.

Update for June 30.

Changes (June 30)
MissouriLean TrumpToss Up Trump

Another couple of polls were released on Tuesday, 18 weeks ahead of Election Day. One was more disruptive, if one can call it that, than the other. But new polling data is new polling data. And there were some changes to the map on the last day of June.

Polling Quick Hits:
First of all, out in the Show-Me state, Garin-Hart-Yang found not only a close presidential race, but a slight Joe Biden lead in a state that President Trump carried by 18 points in 2016. Now, if Missouri were to follow the national and state-level polling trajectory over the last couple of months, then a contraction of some sort could be expected. In fact, even before this poll, Biden was already enough above Hillary Clinton's share of support in 2016 in 2020 Missouri polling that he was in line with the Democrats' average share in the state over the last three presidential election cycles. And Trump was underperforming his Missouri showing by about seven points as well. And that had brought his advantage down to a bit more than six points in the FHQ graduated weighted average there.

But that was before this poll. And before this poll, there had been a handful of surveys conducted in Missouri but only a couple since February. That meant that the early polls were carrying a weight in the average that had decayed quite a bit and were overwhelmed a bit by a fully weighted new poll with Biden ahead. Translation: Missouri jumped from a relatively comfortable Lean Trump state to a state in Trump toss up turf. But this poll, as FHQ explained earlier in a Twitter thread, is an outlier. The swing in this poll from 2016 to 2020 is almost twice what the average swing has been across all states.

It is not that Missouri cannot be closer than it was in 2016, but this poll paints a picture that is a bit tighter than the rest of the polling out there might otherwise depict. That said, if Missouri is within six points -- even with Trump in the lead -- that means that a lot of other states are running much closer than they were in 2016 and are likely a bit bluer than they were four years ago.

And that is pretty much what the map above and Electoral College Spectrum below have consistently shown since FHQ began updating these projections two weeks ago.

New York:
Siena has done most of the survey work in the Empire state in 2020 and the university-based polling outfit added another poll today. There is not much to say about this one. Last month Biden led 57-32 and one month later, the former vice president led 57-32. Like the Pennsylvania poll a day ago, this one was right around the preexisting average here at FHQ. So this one was a confirming poll more than anything else. Biden is in no danger in New York and the new Siena poll did not break with that likely conclusion.

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
NE CD1-1
ME CD1-1
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 Pennsylvania (Biden's toss up states up to the Keystone state), 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 New Hampshire
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state for the former vice president. But because the line between New Hampshire and Pennsylvania creates an Electoral College tie (269-269), Pennsylvania is the tipping point state for Trump. It is where the president surpasses 270 electoral votes. Collectively, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are the tipping point states.

While Missouri's shade may have lightened on both the map and the Spectrum, it did not budge on the Spectrum, retaining its space in the order. The average margin there for Trump may have shrunk some, but it remains a distant takeover opportunity for Biden if it can really be considered one at all. But it is noteworthy that the Trump toss ups have now extended into the fourth column on the figure.

New York obviously did not go anywhere. It, too, stayed in place with the new poll basically affirming the extant state of the race there.

With no new polls in either New Hampshire or Pennsylvania, not to mention those states immediately around them, the tipping point states remained the same as June came to a close. Meanwhile, the Watch List was also unchanged from a day ago. The same group of states near the break points in the various categories were stuck in neutral.

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 Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
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
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up 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 (6/29/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/26/20)

The Electoral College Map (6/25/20)

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