Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Electoral College Map (8/22/20)

Update for August 22.

The work week closed with a couple of late releases of two different series of midwestern/battleground polls that did not quite make it into the Friday update of the electoral map at FHQ. However, they collectively make for a nice Saturday edition.

Polling Quick Hits:
Civiqs ("Rust Belt rising" polls)

The round of rust belt polls from Civiqs was the firm's first (public) foray into any of the four states thus far during calendar 2020. And for the most part, they were all consistent with the pre-existing state of play in each at FHQ with one exception: Michigan. And is not so much where Biden is as it is where the survey has Trump. The former vice president has occupied a space in the upper 40s or lower 50s for much of the summer in the Wolverine state, but the president has been stuck in the lower 40s there for much of the year with some exceptions. That Trump has crept into the mid-40s is new. That may be an outlier position. It may be a new trend.

Michigan: Biden +3
Ohio: tied
Pennsylvania: Biden +7
Wisconsin: Biden +6

Redfield and Wilton Strategies (August wave of battleground polls)

And if one looks at the latest series of battleground polls from Redfield and Wilton, Trump is at the other end of the spectrum in Michigan while Biden remains consistent. But while that is true, there was not that much change from the July poll of Michigan from R&W. In fact, that is true across much of the set of August surveys. They either did not change all that much for the candidates' shares of support or did not see the margins budge all that much. Again, however, there was one exception in this bunch as well. But in this case it was North Carolina where the president jumped into the lead after trailing by varying degrees in every wave since May. Yet, the issue here is not the Trump share of support, but with the Biden responses. Trump is at least in the ballpark of where he has been in much of the Tar Heel state polling over the summer, but Biden comes in a few points lower than where the averages have him here at FHQ. In the end, North Carolina is close. One should expect to see some variation, including some polls with the president ahead. This is one of those polls.

Arizona: Biden +9 (Biden +1 since July wave)
Florida: Biden +8 (Biden -1)
Michigan: Biden +12 (Biden +1, Trump -1)
North Carolina: Trump +2 (Biden +1, Trump +4)
Pennsylvania: Biden +7 (no change)
Wisconsin: Biden +10 (Biden +4, Trump +4)

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.

Despite a raft of new polling in many of the closest (or most closely watched anyway) states, nothing really changed where it matters here at FHQ. The map, Electoral College Spectrum and Watch List all look just as they did on Friday. Biden maintains leads in all seven states ranging from a near tie in Ohio (Biden +0.15) to what doesn't look all that much like a battleground in Michigan (Biden +7.58).   What that means is that Pennsylvania keeps its status as the current tipping point state in the order and the same 13 states and districts -- plus underpolled Nevada -- continue to be the states to eye most closely when new polls are released. Those are the states where changes are most likely here at FHQ.

There were no new polls from Nevada today.

Days since the last Nevada poll was in the field: 114.

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 (8/21/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/20/20)

The Electoral College Map (8/19/20)

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