Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/26/20)

Update for July 26.

There are now just 100 days until election day. The overarching story of the race remains largely unchanged despite the release today of a series of polls in some of the most closely watched states of this cycle. Biden maintains a sizable advantage in the electoral college as seen through the lens of the polling averages here at FHQ.

Polling Quick Hits:
Arizona (Biden 50, Trump 45 via Marist | Biden 49, Trump 45 via CNN):
"Keeping Arizona red shouldn’t be a challenge; the state has long been a Republican stronghold. But Arizona is changing rapidly, and right now, the forecast for the GOP looks grim: In 2018, Kyrsten Sinema became the first Democrat to win a Senate race in the state since the 1980s, and Joe Biden has been leading in the presidential polls there for weeks," recently wrote Elaine Godfried at The Atlantic. Biden has led in all but three (of 25) polls conducted in Arizona since Super Tuesday. And that did not change with the release of two polls from the Grand Canyon state on Sunday. The former vice president's advantage there is nothing new and has been in the 2-4 point range in the averages since FHQ started these updates in mid-June. It has been a steady lead and one that has seen Biden increasingly hovering around the 50 percent mark of late. If the president is going to turn that around, then now is probably the time to start.

Florida (Biden 51, Trump 46):
FHQ the other day made something of the number of times Biden had been at or above 50 percent in the Sunshine state in July. Chalk another one of those up for the former vice president. CNN also found Biden over the majority threshold, making it the fifth of seven new July surveys in Florida. Hitting that mark is significant in and of itself, but the extent to which that trend persists may be the true story in what is typically a quadrennial toss up state. If Trump does not carry Florida in November, then the paths to 270 are greatly reduced if not eliminated.

Michigan (Biden 52, Trump 40 via CNN | Biden 48, Trump 42 via YouGov):
Biden near 50 percent and Trump in the low 40s is and has been the story in Michigan since April. If it was not for Florida looking similar and pushing into the Lean Biden group of states this past week, then the shift in the Wolverine state would probably be/continue to be among the banner headlines in this race. And again, it was a picture that was not really altered all that much by the addition of another couple of polls today. One of the blue wall states that narrowly flipped to Trump in 2016 is a heavy lift for Trump moving forward. It is not as necessary for 270 to the president as Florida, but again, without it, Trump has fewer paths.

Ohio (Trump 46, Biden 45):
While this YouGov survey may look like a silver lining for Trump among a host of other polls showing Biden ahead in competitive states, it represents a fairly significant shift from 2016. The president won the state by eight points four years ago, and the seven point shift in this poll is only a little behind the average overall shift from 2016 to now in all states. And again, not to beat a dead horse, but if Ohio is in the discussion of most competitive states in November, then that is not good news for the president. Assuming a uniform swing from 2016 to now, it would mean Biden is comfortably ahead in states that together comprise more than 270 electoral votes.

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
(278 | 289)
(298 | 260)
(302 | 240)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
(334 | 219)
(352 | 204)
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 plus the Pennsylvania and Florida), he would have 278 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.

Despite the new data from a handful of what have been dubbed battlegrounds for 2020, the order of states remained the same as a day ago. Florida continues to hold the distinction of being the tipping point state on the Electoral College Spectrum above, and Arizona is still firmly lodged in the mathematical middle of the Toss Up Biden category. And while Ohio is still the last of the Biden states on his side of the partisan line, the average there dipped below Biden +1. That means that the Watch List below welcomes the Buckeye state back to a group of states that otherwise remained unchanged since Saturday. The Biden edge shrunk enough in Ohio to make the state the closest of them all, but Georgia is a close second on Trump's side of the partisan line.

There were also no new polls from Nevada nor New Hampshire today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 87.
Days since the last New Hampshire poll was in the field: 40.

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 Lean Biden
to Toss Up 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 Toss Up Biden
to Lean 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 (7/25/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/24/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/23/20)

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