Monday, July 20, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/20/20)

Update for July 20.

At the dawn of another work week just 15 weeks out from election day in November, there were a couple of battleground state polls released in the southeast. And both were pretty good for President Trump. Neither really matches other recent surveys in the field in either Georgia or North Carolina, but the topline margins in both polls were positive for the president and so was the fact that he was at or near the 50 percent mark in each.

Polling Quick Hits:
The latest effort from Trafalgar Group finds Trump up by a greater margin (+7) than not only recent polling of the Peach state has shown, but at 50 percent in a survey of the state for the first time since the very first 2020 poll from the University of Georgia back in March. That was also the only survey that had the president up by more than any other this year (+8). Does that make this one an outlier? At first glance, perhaps. But it could also be the beginning of  anew trend in the state. Of course, this poll comes on the heels of the recent Gravis survey for OAN that also found Trump ahead (+3) in Georgia. Prior to that, June had been marked by Biden leads in the Peach state.

North Carolina:
Up I-85 from Georgia in North Carolina, Trump again was approaching 50 percent in the release from Cardinal Point Analytics. But Biden was just a point behind in that survey of the Tar Heel state. Unlike Georgia, North Carolina was polled more frequently in June. But like Georgia, that survey work consistently found the former vice president ahead. The margins may have varied, but Biden led in all but one of the nine June polls conducted in North Carolina. Again, this survey may be the start of something new in the state, but compared to recent polling there, it stands out. And that is more true in light of the fact that Trump has not approached 50 percent in many of the polls in North Carolina anyway. In fact, there was just one of there poll -- from Harper in April -- that had Trump at this 49 percent peak. Most of the rest of the other polling polling has shown the president more often in the mid-40s.

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.

No, while neither of these two polls of two of the most competitive states on the 2020 board did anything to change their current designations here at FHQ, both did move the average margins in Trump's direction, narrowing it in North Carolina and broadening it in Georgia. The latter was more meaningful as it pushed the average margin in the Peach state above one point, nudging it off the Watch List below and beyond Texas on the Electoral College Spectrum above. Texas now stands as the state with the tightest margin on Trump's side of the partisan line. But both Georgia and Texas remain close to being back on the Watch List.

New Hampshire and Pennsylvania continue to hold down tipping point state(s) status, which is to be expected on both a day that saw no new polls from either much less those around them in the order.

The Watch List lost Georgia, but stayed the same otherwise. Importantly, with Georgia now off the List, Ohio stands alone as the only state within a fraction of a point of jumping the partisan line into the other candidate's -- Trump's in this case -- coalition of states and changing the overall electoral college tally. Every other possible change around the Strong/Lean lines or the Lean/Toss Up lines.

But on the whole, today was a quiet polling release day to start the 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
Potential Switch
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean 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
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 (7/19/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/18/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/17/20)

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