Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/14/20)

Update for July 14.

Changes (July 13)
Strong Trump
Lean Trump
Tuesday brought a couple of new polls and one change on the map here at FHQ. No, neither poll did much to change the overall tally. It remains at 352-186 in former Vice President Joe Biden's favor. But although the new poll in toss up Florida did not change the outlook, a new survey out of Montana pushed the Treasure state back into the Lean Trump category. And that is the change for the day. However, Montana, like a lot of other states crowded around the lines of categorical demarcation at FHQ, continues to straddle that 10 point margin line between the Lean and Strong categories on the Trump side.

Polling Quick Hits:
A new survey coming out of the field in the Sunshine state is always welcome. And when FHQ saw that a new Florida poll was forthcoming from Gravis, there was one question that came to mind: Was this a poll sponsored by One American News or an unsponsored one from Gravis Marketing Institute? That question arises because there has been a noticeable difference between the two in the handful of state-level polls the firm has conducted in 2020. Those for OAN -- Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina -- have all been Trump-favorable compared to other polling in those states while the unsponsored polls -- in Minnesota and now Florida -- have been more in line with recent polling if not a little more Biden-favorable than the rest.

And while this latest Gravis survey of the Sunshine state fits within the range of polling margins in Biden's direction over the last month, it is on the upper end of that range. And most of that has to do with Biden's share of support. In those polls with the margin at or near the 10 percentage point advantage Biden has in this Gravis poll, Biden is at or above 50 percent. Meanwhile, Trump tends to be in the lower 40s. But that has been the norm in Florida polling over the last month or so.

For the first time during calendar 2020, Civiqs was in the field in Montana and the firm found a lot of uniformity among all of the statewide offices on the ballot in the Treasure state this fall. Republicans led in the races for president, governor, Senate and House and all by fairly narrow margins. All of the Republicans sat just under 50 percent in each race with all four Democrats trailing in the mid-40s. That may or may not be on par in down ballot races, but with the presidential race pegged at 49-45, the margin in this poll is closer than any of the 2020 surveys in the state thus far. Biden has certainly done better in Montana polling than Clinton did on Election Day in 2016 by almost six points, and Trump has fared about six points worse. But that only narrows the margin so much in a state the president won by 21 four years ago.

That 12 point swing from 2016 on Election Day to 2020 polling (averages) today means that Montana is settled currently right around -- just under actually -- the 10 percentage point line separating Lean and Strong states on the Trump side of the ledger. In light of the sporadic polling conducted in the state in 2020, and considering a uniform swing from 2016 to now, this one looks to be a bit of an outlier.

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
ME CD1-1
NE 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.

Yes, Montana, on the weight of a closer-than-average poll shifted back into the Lean Trump category and up five cells toward the partisan line on the Electoral College Spectrum above, but that wide margin in Florida only marginally shifted the gap in the Sunshine state. Although it did nudge the margin closer to the Lean Biden category, the new Gravis survey did not dislodge the state from the toss up category Florida almost always occupies.

As such, Florida remains on the Watch List below and is joined by Montana. Again, the Treasure state is straddling the line between Strong and Lean Trump and will likely stay there unless there is an overall change in the trajectory of the presidential race. [Louisiana and Nebraska's 1st congressional district rejoined the List as well. Neither jurisdiction has seen general election polling in 2020 and have their averages tethered to the 2020 swings in states that finished around them in 2016. Montana is one of those states.]

There were no new polls in either New Hampshire or Pennsylvania and without new data there, both maintained their positions as the tipping point states for the moment.

And another day passed with no new polling out of Nevada. The Silver state may not be on the Watch List, but the lack of polling there of late means that the averages here at FHQ may not reflect the true shift on the ground in Nevada.

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 Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up 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
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
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 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 (7/13/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/2/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/1/20)

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