Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Electoral College Map (9/9/20)

Update for September 9.

There is a lot to look at in Wednesday's update: three new battleground waves and four new single poll releases from another four battlegrounds. And there is a theme that has come into sharper contrast of late.

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 50, Trump 47)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +4.08]
Starting out in the Sunshine state, this is now the fourth poll in the 2020 series from St. Pete Polls and like a number of post-convention polls that are part of a series, this one demonstrates a familiar pattern. The margin in these surveys of Florida were closer early on, saw Biden stretch a narrow margin in June/July and saw it narrow a bit after the national conventions. The net result is still the same: Biden retains the lead. Sure, one could argue the gap has closed, but alternatively a regression to the mean argument may be more appropriate pending more data.

(Biden 47, Trump 42)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.35]
The same trend is less clear in Michigan. Glengariff Group was last in the field in the Great Lakes state all the way back in the first week of January, and interestingly, the number of undecideds has doubled since then, peeling away marginally more support from Biden than from Trump. But again, the outcome is still the same: Biden retains the lead. This one, however, finds the former vice president down around his nadir of support in the state since July. And the president finds his support in much the same position, although there is more company in other polls around his 42 percent support in this one. Furthermore, it falls right on Trump's average share of support at FHQ. Biden, meanwhile, runs a bit behind his FHQ level of support in this survey.

(Biden 53, Trump 44)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +5.25]
This is the first Marist survey of the Keystone state in calendar 2020, and as such, there is no direct point of comparison for it as there were for Florida and Michigan above. However, on the heels of the Marist poll of Florida released a day ago, there is something of a divergence. Yes, there is polling variability, but if FHQ says this about Pulse Opinion Research (in some recent blue wall polling), then it can be said in this case as well. The world where Biden is up nine in Pennsylvania and tied in Florida is not one witnessed all that often during this race. Nevertheless, this poll is as on the high side of things for the former vice president's positioning as the Florida poll was on the low side. But the main take home from this one is that while it nailed the FHQ average level of support for Trump, it had Biden running nearly four points ahead of his. The former vice president is near 50 percent on average, but clearly not that far over it.

(Biden 48, Trump 44)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +6.34]
The final one-off poll today is another in a series this year. And yes, the Marquette Law School series in the Badger state follows that same familiar pattern. Biden has held the advantage in the seven polls in the series, but saw a narrow lead in the early months of the year begin to tick up during the first two months of the pandemic. That rise topped out in, surprise!, June/July, and came back down to more "normal" levels in August and thereafter. In fact, from August to September, the Biden edge in Wisconsin did not budge through the Marquette lens. However, it does show Trump running marginally ahead of his FHQ average as Biden is slightly behind his.

Change Research (first September battleground wave)

The commentary on these three waves of battleground polls will be true to the name of this section: Quick Hits. Look, the Change Research polls continue to show a stable race. It really is that simple. Trump made up ground in none of the six states between the last wave and this one, but it is not as if the president lost a lot of ground. The changes are small enough to constitute statistical noise.

Arizona: Biden +4 (Biden +/-0, Trump -2 since last wave) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.40]
Florida: Biden +3 (Biden +/-0, Trump +/-0)
Michigan: Biden +6 (Biden -1, Trump -1)
North Carolina: Biden +2 (Biden +1, Trump +/-0) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +1.65]
Pennsylvania: Biden +4 (Biden +1, Trump +/-0)
Wisconsin: Biden +6 (Biden +1, Trump +/-0)

Morning Consult (fully post-convention battleground wave)

The president did make up some ground in the Morning Consult updates, but it was a mixed bag. Trump gained marginally in six of the 11 states surveyed and either broke even or fell slightly further behind Biden in the rest. The bigger thing to note here is that because there was an overlapping two days in the last Morning Consult wave (during and after the Republican convention) and this one, the earlier one was dropped so as not to double count any respondents. That had the most noticeable impacts in Arizona (where Biden was up 10 in the dropped poll) and in Georgia (where a Biden lead was discarded in favor of a Trump lead). But the effects were minimal for the most part. No change altered which category any of the eleven states have been stationed.

Arizona: Biden +3 (Biden +4, Trump -1 since last wave)
Colorado: Biden +6 (Biden -2, Trump +2) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +11.98]
Florida: Biden +5 (Biden +/-0, Trump +/-0)
Georgia: Trump +2 (Biden +/-0, Trump +1) [Current FHQ margin: Trump +0.75]
Michigan: Biden +10 (Biden +2, Trump -2)
Minnesota: Biden +5 (Biden -1, Trump +2) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.22]
North Carolina: Biden +1 (Biden -1, Trump +1)
Ohio: Trump +5 (Biden +/-0, Trump +1) [Current FHQ margin: Trump +0.22]
Pennsylvania: Biden +5 (Biden +/-0, Trump +1)
Texas: Tied (Biden +/-0, Trump -1) [Current FHQ margin: Trump +1.10]
Wisconsin: Biden +8 (Biden +2, Trump +/-0)

Redfield and Wilton Strategies (September battleground wave)

Trump more noticeably closed prior disadvantages in the Redfield polls, gaining ground in five of the six states. But the only one where the president lost ground was in North Carolina, the only state where Trump previously held the lead. He still leads, but the margin decreased since the last wave.

Arizona: Biden +5 (Biden +1, Trump +5 since last wave)
Florida: Biden +3 (Biden -2, Trump +3)
Michigan: Biden +11 (Biden +1, Trump +2)
North Carolina: Trump +1 (Biden -1, Trump -2)
Pennsylvania: Biden +5 (Biden +/-0, Trump +2)
Wisconsin: Biden +9 (Biden +1, Trump +2)

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)
(279 | 265)
(308 | 259)
(319 | 230)
NE CD1-1
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
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. The tipping point cell is shaded in yellow to denote that and the font color is adjusted to attempt to reflect the category in which the state is.

All that battleground state polling activity and not a whole lot to show for it in the way of changes here at FHQ. Both the map and the Watch List remained unchanged from a day ago, but there was one interesting shift on the Electoral College Spectrum. On the Biden side, after tracking downward for the last few weeks, the average margin in Minnesota has pushed past Michigan and is now closer to the partisan line than the Great Lakes state. Movement like that may explain some of the Trump campaign's spending decisions of late.

But with 55 days to go until November 3, Pennsylvania continues to hold down the distinction of being the tipping point state and Trump still has ground to make up.

Where things stood at FHQ on September 9 (or close to it) in...

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 Biden
to Lean Biden
Maine CD2
from Toss Up Biden
to Toss Up Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Lean Trump
to Toss Up Trump
Nebraska CD2
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up Biden
South Carolina
from Lean Trump
to Toss Up Trump
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 (9/8/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/7/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/6/20)

Follow FHQ on TwitterInstagram and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: