Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/13/20)

Update for August 13.

A slower Thursday than last week nonetheless delivered four polls from a variety of states across the Electoral College Spectrum here at FHQ. All told, a Strong Biden state, a Strong Trump state, a former blue wall state that is looking less close for the president in 2020 and one of the closest states on the board were all represented in the releases of the day. None, however, fundamentally changed the outlook of the race with just 82 days to go.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 56, Trump 28):
Survey USA was in the field with a poll yesterday attempting to gauge the impact of the Biden decision to name Kamala Harris his running mate in her home state. Some undecideds and supporters of minor party candidates moved, but the overall impact was negligible. But then again, that is true of addition of most running mates and likely even more so when the pick is from a state with a decided partisan lean in favor of the nominee's party. California, after all, was never in any real danger of moving into the Republican column this fall. Regardless, this survey, while still favoring Biden by a significant margin, has both candidates running behind their respective party's candidates in 2016. Chalk that up to undecideds and those still supporting third party candidates, however.

(Trump 53, Biden 43):
Back east of the Mississippi, the picture in the Magnolia state looks virtually the same as it did before the addition of the Garin-Hart-Yang poll. The average margin between Biden and Trump in Mississippi here at FHQ has been around Trump +10 for weeks and this survey strayed a fraction of a point from that. The result was that Mississippi stayed just north of the Strong/Lean line on the Trump side of the ledger. But again, as was the case with Kansas a day ago, that Mississippi is within about ten points -- and still safely in the Trump column -- that is eight points off where things stood on election day four years ago. And most of the change is in Trump's support. Biden has gained a little more than a point on Hillary Clinton's pace in 2016, but Trump has lost more than six points. That swing toward the Democrats is in line with the overall shift averaged across all states. Right now that stands at 7.65 points from 2016.

North Carolina
(Biden 45, Trump 44):
The latest Harper Polling release in the Tar Heel state is consistent with other recent polling there showing a close race between the president and former vice president. But contra some of the most recent surveys there, this one has Biden narrowly ahead. And what is more, this poll marks an improvement for Biden since the firm was last in the field in North Carolina. While the former vice president was behind by three in the late May Harper survey, he holds a narrow lead now. Yes, that movement is small and within the margin of error, but it is in the direction of the movement in polling across the country during the summer months. The bottom line in North Carolina, however, remains that it is close and among the five closest states as August inches toward the national conventions.

(Biden 55, Trump 43):
This is the fifth day in a row that results of a new survey have been released out of Wisconsin. And of those five polls, this Pulse Opinion Research survey finds Biden ahead by a margin twice as large as the next largest of the bunch. Yes, there have been other polls in the field in the Badger state this summer that have shown Biden up double digits, but those have been more rare than the ones that more consistently find the race in the mid-single digits. Count this one as an outlier unless other similar polls start to pop up with more regularity.

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
(273 | 286)
(302 | 265)
(308 | 236)
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
(334 | 219)
ME CD2-1
(353 | 204)
ME CD1-1
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 plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 286 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 Pennsylvania
 is the state where Biden crosses the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election, the tipping point state.

New data is always welcome from battleground states, but there is a premium placed on new information from the lesser surveyed states. The California and Mississippi polls add to the understanding of where the race currently is. In short, the 2020 polling has swung toward Joe Biden and the Democrats relative to 2016. And that is clear in battleground states and those safe on both sides of the partisan line alike. But none of these polls today did anything to push any of the four state from their spots on the Spectrum above.

It also changed nothing on the Watch List below. Those 13 states and other jurisdictions remain the ones to watch along with underpolled Nevada. New polling in any of those areas is more likely to change things around here than in other states.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 105.

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 Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
Maine CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Lean Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Toss Up Trump
from Strong Biden
to Lean 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 (8/12/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/11/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/10/20)

Follow FHQ on TwitterInstagram and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: