Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Electoral College Map (7/29/20)

Update for July 29.

Changes (July 29)
PennsylvaniaLean BidenToss Up Biden
Following a day with a slew of poll releases, Wednesday was a bit more pedestrian. With 97 days to go until election day, there was a tenth wave of battleground surveys from Change Research, a new poll out of Georgia and a leftover from yesterday updating the race in Washington state.

All of that was enough to once again push Pennsylvania below the Lean/Toss Up line, but there is a cluster of states -- Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- all within a point of that barrier. The back and forth is consequential on some level, but ultimately only drives home the point that each is tipped around five points in Biden's direction.

Polling Quick Hits:
Georgia (Trump 49, Biden 46):
Monmouth released another state-level poll with three different assumptions about turnout in their samples. And like the one in Pennsylvania earlier this month, as the samples moved from registered voters to likely with high turnout to likely voters with an assumed lower turnout, the more Trump favorable the results. The difference in this case is that the range -- from tied to Trump +3 -- was much smaller. That meant the impact of which survey assumption was used had minimal impact on the averages here at FHQ. Georgia would have remained a Trump toss up and still on the Watch List regardless. But using the version with the low turnout assumption -- as was the case with Pennsylvania before -- switched Georgia and Ohio in the rank ordering on the Electoral College Spectrum below. Both, however, continue to be close to each other in a battle for the distinction of being the closest state on the board.

Washington (Biden 62, Trump 28):
It has been more than two months since the last survey was in the field in the Evergreen state, and the picture of the race -- this time from Survey USA -- was largely similar from a 30,000 foot view. Biden leads and big in a state the former vice president will likely carry in the fall. But what separates this survey from the last poll of the state in May is that Biden is at his high water mark there so far while Trump is at his nadir. Biden was running about four points above his FHQ average while Trump was running around four points behind his. That expanded the average margin in Biden's favor in a state that has seen relatively little polling in 2020.

Change Research (July wave #2):
The last couple of days have been about series of polls in multiple states. Yesterday saw battleground waves from Morning Consult and another seven state series from Public Policy Polling. Today brought the latest wave of battleground polling from Change Research. Overall, this series showed a bit of a contraction in Biden's earlier July leads across the six states. On average, the former vice president lost 2.5 points while maintaining leads in all six. Moreover, the range of margins remains quite tight and because of that the order does not exactly match the rank ordering established on the Spectrum below. But the differences are not that large. The key is that Biden is ahead in all six states -- the core of any path to 270 -- but saw his edge wane a bit. But it is a small enough change to be chalked up to variation across surveys.

Arizona: Biden +2 (-4 since first July wave)
Pennsylvania: Biden +2 (-6)
North Carolina: Biden +3 (+2)
Florida: Biden +3 (-4)
Michigan: Biden +4 (-2)
Wisconsin: Biden +5 (-1)

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
(269 | 289)
(273 | 269)
(302 | 265)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
(334 | 219)
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 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 would cross 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.

Georgia and Ohio swapping spots on the Spectrum was alluded to above, but there were some other subtle changes triggered by the addition of these polls. Washington moved up a couple of cells in the order in the far left column, deep in Biden's coalition of states. And Florida and New Hampshire trade positions as well with the result that New Hampshire and not Florida is now sharing the tipping point state distinction with Pennsylvania again. A candidate would need both New Hampshire and Pennsylvania to crest above 270 if the results on November 3 returned an order like this.

The Watch List below carried over the same 14 state from a day ago, but saw the potential Pennsylvania switch change another possible push into the Lean Biden category. The ones that matter on the list remain Georgia and Ohio. They are the states that could alter the electoral vote tally for the candidates and not just categories within their coalitions.

And yes, Nevada and New Hampshire continue to be states to watch as well.

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

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 90.
Days since the last New Hampshire poll was in the field: 43.

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 Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Lean 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 Trump
to Toss Up Biden
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 (7/28/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/27/20)

The Electoral College Map (7/26/20)

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