Friday, July 17, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/17/20)

Update for July 17.

The end of the work week was not ushered out with any additional state-level polling releases. But there was a leftover survey out of Kentucky from late yesterday that did not make it into the update. The internal poll from the McGrath (D) campaign to kick off her general election Senate race against Majority Leader McConnell not only tested the Senate race but the presidential race as well.

Polling Quick Hits:
The Garin-Hart-Yang survey of Kentucky done at the behest of the McGrath campaign showed a tight race for McConnell's seat, but further up the ticket at the presidential level, there was a wider gap between Biden and Trump in the Bluegrass state. On the one hand, Trump has a comfortable enough 12 point advantage, but in a state the president won in 2016 by 30. That is indicative of the direction of the swing over the last four years, but it is a bit more of a decay in support for the president in that time. While Trump has lost more than eight points in Kentucky from 2016 on election day to his share of support in the state through the lens of 2020 polling, Biden has gained nearly five points on Clinton's share. Both run a bit beyond where the average shift across all states is according to the FHQ graduated weighted averages (Biden +3.30, Trump -4.57).

Moreover, G-H-Y has polled presidential preference in Kentucky over the last two months as well. Even there, Trump's margin has shrunk by nine points. The president is not going to lose Kentucky in November, but as is the case with a uniform swing, a 13 point shift in Kentucky means a lot of atypical states are in play, states well beyond the tipping point state.

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
(269 | 289)
(273 | 269)
(302 | 265)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
(334 | 219)
(352 | 204)
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 Kentucky held steady on the Electoral College Spectrum above, the new survey there had some impact on Arkansas, a state with just one poll where the polling average is tethered to the swings in states that finished near it in the order in 2016. Kentucky is one of those states and nudged Arkansas within a point of the Strong/Lean Trump line. That places Arkansas on the Watch List below for the time being. That was the only addition to the List and none of the states there a day ago moved off today.

New Hampshire and Pennsylvania remain the tipping point states as the work week closes. But New Hampshire could use some updated data as could Nevada. Both look a bit more competitive in the FHQ averages than they likely are -- considering shifts elsewhere -- because the polling in both is both scant compared to some other states and quite dated for the most part.

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 Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
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 Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
New Hampshire
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up 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 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 (7/16/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/15/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/14/20)

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