Friday, October 2, 2020

The Electoral College Map (10/2/20)

Update for October 2.

Well, this has been a week.

The work week comes to a close with a handful of new surveys from five states and another wave of polls from Redfield and Wilton Strategies in the six core battlegrounds. Of those five, surveys of Georgia, Michigan and New Hampshire were all in the field after the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. But of those only the polls in Georgia and Michigan had pre-debate surveys from the same firms. In both there was movement in Biden's direction following the debate. The swing in Georgia from an August Landmark Communications survey to now was more pronounced, but that preceding survey last month, in retrospect, was a fairly clear outlier. It, too, had a survey that preceded it. And using that one as the point of comparison rather than the outlier shows a smaller shift, but still one in the former vice president's direction.  The change in Michigan was more modest from one Public Policy Polling survey (on behalf of Progress Michigan) to another. All in all, the changes were small enough to have potentially just been statistical noise than from anything stemming from the debate itself. Still, this is likely something worth tracking heading forward.

On to the other surveys...

Polling Quick Hits:
(Biden 50, Trump 46)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.47]
The Suffolk poll of likely voters in the Grand Canyon state is the firm's first conducted there in calendar 2020. And while there is no natural point of comparison, the survey is not inconsistent with the established averages at FHQ. The margin is on target, but both candidates are running a couple of points ahead of their FHQ average shares of support. As has been noted a few times in this space, that sort of dynamic should continue as election day approaches and more undecideds come off the board. That should increasingly have one or both of the candidates out in front of their averages.

(Biden 47, Trump 45)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +0.10]
As noted above, FHQ will throw out the immediately previous Landmark Communications survey in favor of the one that was released two weeks before that in mid-August. It fit in more with the other polls in the field in the Peach state around the same time and represented a four point swing toward Biden (rather than a nine point shift). And really, the two polls -- minus the outlier -- are much more in line with the ranges of support in which both candidates have much more consistently ended up in. Georgia is most often in a Biden +3 to Trump +3 range at the moment and this latest Landmark poll fits well in there.

(Biden 50, Trump 44)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.04]
Meanwhile, in Michigan, Public Policy Polling offered an opportunity to examine the possible pre- and post-debate effects. And the movement in the Great Lakes state was toward Biden as well. However, it did not really come at Trump's expense. The president was stable at 44 percent across the two surveys and Biden picked up a couple of points from other-undecided in that time. But again, while it may be easy to chalk that up to some impact from the debate earlier this week, the shift is small enough to just as easily have been some more pedestrian polling variability instead. The bottom line is that the former vice president maintains a smaller than average advantage in these surveys than the full world of Michigan polls.

New Hampshire
(Biden 53, Trump 45)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.96]
Emerson waded into the Granite state to gauge public opinion on the presidential race for the first time in calendar 2020 and found what the slew of other recent survey of the state have found: Biden up by a margin in the upper single digits. As with the Arizona poll above, this survey nailed the margin, but had both candidates a couple of points out in front of their established average shares of support here at FHQ.

New York
(Biden 61, Trump 29)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +28.35]
Over in the Empire state Siena_ was back in the field, but for the first drew a likely rather than registered voter sample. That shift was beneficial to the Democratic nominee. Biden gained four percent since the June Siena survey to push back above the 60 percent mark. Trump, on the other, hand lost out in the registered-to-likely transition. The president not only lost ground because of Biden's gain, but also saw his own support decay, nudging his support below 30 percent in his former home state for the first time since an April Siena survey there. Look, Biden is unlikely to lose New York on November 3, but he is running a hair above Hillary Clinton's pace in the state from four years ago while Trump has lost nearly six points off his 2016 showing in the state.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies (late September wave of battleground polls)

Arizona: Biden +3 (Biden +/-0, Trump +2  since mid-September wave)
Florida: Biden +5 (Biden +1, Trump -1) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +3.49]
Michigan: Biden +9 (Biden +2, Trump +3)
North Carolina: Biden +2 (Biden +/-0, Trump +/-0) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +1.47]
Pennsylvania: Biden +6 (Biden +1, Trump +/-0) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +5.35]
Wisconsin: Biden +5 (Biden +1, Trump +2) [Current FHQ margin: Biden +6.18]

Finally, there was another wave of battleground surveys from Redfield and Wilton. And again, the changes were minimal from the last wave less than two weeks ago. What continues to stand out in these is the extent to which the order in these polls differs from the established order on the Electoral College Spectrum. Some variability in the margins is to be expected between the two, but the Arizona is now back to being on the low side of Florida and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are flipped in the order. Those are, however, small differences.

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
(273 | 285)
(279 | 265)
(308 | 259)
ME CD2-1
(320 | 230)
NE CD1-1
(335 | 218)
ME CD1-1
NE 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 plus the Pennsylvania), he would have 285 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 Trump's is on the right in bold italics.

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.

Like yesterday's update, the polls added to the dataset today did nothing to alter either the map or the Watch List. But the did have some impact on the order among four important toss up states. Arizona and Florida again changed places with the Grand Canyon state moving one cell closer to the partisan line. And in Trump territory, there was more shuffling among the the group of states clustered within a point of the partisan line. The new Georgia poll brought the average margin down enough in the Peach state to jump it over Ohio in to the most competitive position right up against the barrier separating Trump from Biden states. But again, both are so close to one another right now that one is likely to see more of this moving forward. And importantly, both states are within two-tenths of a point of shifting over onto Toss Up Biden turf.

That is no small thing. As has become the mantra of sorts around here, if the chatter about the most competitive states on election day is about Georgia, Iowa and Ohio rather than, say, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, then one will have a pretty good idea of where the election is likely headed.

Where things stood at FHQ on October 2 (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 Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Strong Trump
to Lean Trump
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
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 (10/1/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/30/20)

The Electoral College Map (9/29/20)

Follow FHQ on TwitterInstagram and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: