Friday, August 21, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/21/20)

Update for August 21.

Democrats wrapped up their convention Thursday night with Joe Biden accepting the party's presidential nomination. While it will be at least a little while before any sort of bounce can be detected coming out of this virtual convention, the former vice president emerges from the quadrennial gathering in much the same position today as he was last weekend before the meeting officially gaveled in. That is to say that Biden still maintains the same 353-185 electoral vote edge that he did before the convention. And the pair of polls added to the mix at FHQ did little to change that.

Polling Quick Hits:
New Hampshire
(Biden 51, Trump 43):
In New Hampshire, St. Anselm was back in the field for the first time since mid-June and finds the race for the White House looking much the same in the Granite state as it did then. Biden has pushed past the 50 percent mark with Trump still stuck in the low 40s. But then again, that has been the sort of snapshot the college survey has shown every other month since April. It is a steady race through their lens and fairly consistent with the 50-42 advantage Biden has in the FHQ averages in the state.

New Jersey
(Biden 52, Trump 33):
The first update in New Jersey since last month also carries with it a tale of status quo maintenance. In fact, the latest DKC Analytics survey of the Garden state look nearly identical to the firm's poll of the state a month ago. And while Biden is ahead, the former vice president is running behind Hillary Clinton's pace in the state four years ago. At this point, Biden is about two points behind where Clinton was in New Jersey in November 2016. [That said, this survey looks an awful lot like the Washington Post poll of the state, the lone August 2016 poll there.] Trump, on the other hand, is more than six points behind his position in New Jersey in the 2016 election results there.

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.

It goes without saying that two polls like those above that did little to change the outlook in either New Hampshire or New Jersey did not do much to altered the overarching state of the race at FHQ. The did not. Neither budged on the Electoral College Spectrum above nor was either added to the Watch List below.

The same 13 states and districts along with underpolled Nevada remain the state to watch as more polls are released in the coming days. It is those states that have the highest potential to switch categories given new polling data.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 113.

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 Lean Trump
to Strong 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 (8/20/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/19/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/18/20)

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