Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Electoral College Map (11/1/20)

Update for November 1.

Well, if Saturday was a break from what have often been quiet weekends on the polling front in the 2020 presidential race, then Sunday was a decibel-filled cacophony. There were new data from 57 polls in 16 states -- plus surveys that covered both congressional districts in Maine and the second in Nebraska -- and it was all concentrated in the 13 states from New Mexico on the left to Texas on the right in the heart of the Electoral College Spectrum order. 

What was unique about this batch of new surveys was that a raft of them came from right-leaning pollsters. And across the states that count -- those six core battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- the margins all decreased, benefiting President Trump. However, there are two sizable caveats to that. First, despite the decreases, the map and projection remained unchanged after the introduction of those polls. That means that none of those battlegrounds changed categories. But second, in drilling down just a smidgen, there was either no movement or movement toward Biden since the last polls in the majority of surveys in those series. 

They may have -- and may yet on Monday -- flood the zone with new polls, but those data from right-leaning pollsters are unlikely to change anything around here before tomorrow. Even Georgia, which has lately been precariously perched on either side of the partisan line has shifted enough into the Biden column at this point, that it, too, is likely locked in there. Again, this has been a steady race, and while these polls may have brought down the average margins some in states where Biden has been ahead throughout, in the end it is but a small sliver of a change.

On to the polls...

Polling Quick Hits:
(Trump 50, Biden 48 via AtlasIntel | Biden 48, Trump 46 via Emerson | Biden 49, Trump 43 via Siena/NYT Upshot | Biden 50, Trump 46 via CNN | Biden 50, Trump 47 via Y2 Analytics)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +2.89] 
No previous AtlasIntel poll
Emerson: Biden 53, Trump 47 in August poll
Siena: Biden 49, Trump 41 in early October poll
CNN: Biden 49, Trump 45 in July poll
No previous Y2 Analytics poll

FHQ will start each of these polling vignettes today with the current FHQ average in each state. In Arizona, Biden's (rounded) advantage is 48-45. Of the day's polls in the Grand Canyon state, Emerson, CNN and Y2 Analytics most fall in line with that long established state of affairs in Arizona. It is and has been close, but it has also, more often than not been tipped in the former vice president's direction in individual polls. There is some narrowing across a few of these from their last iterations, but it is not to the level of tightening that the president is going to need to pull out wins in some of these states below. 

(Biden 53, Trump 41 via Keating Research)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +12.82] 
Keating: Biden 54, Trump 39 in mid-October poll

Currently, the averages in this former perennial battleground has Biden out to a 53-40 (rounded) lead. Colorado simply has not been close in 2020 and is not still in an update that falls right on the candidates' averages here.

(Trump 47, Biden 46 via Susquehanna | Biden 48, Trump 47 via Pulse Opinion Research | Biden 47, Trump 44 via Siena/NYT Upshot | Biden 49, Trump 48 via St. Pete Polls | Biden 52, Trump 46 via Emerson | Biden 51, Trump 47 via RMG Research | Trump 50, Biden 48 via ABC/WaPo | Biden 49, Trump 47 via YouGov/CCES)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +2.88] 
Susquehanna: Trump 49, Biden 44 in poll last week
Pulse Opinion Research: Trump 50, Biden 46 in mid-October poll
Siena: Biden 47, Trump 42 in early October poll
St. Pete Polls: Biden 49, Trump 47 in mid-October poll
Emerson: Biden 51, Trump 48 in mid-October poll
RMG Research: Biden 50, Trump 48 in mid-October poll
ABC/WaPo: Trump 51, Biden 47 in September poll
No previous YouGov/CCES poll

In the Sunshine state, Trump lags Biden by a 49-46 (rounded) margin, and most of the eight new polls out of Florida today fit right in that general range. There are some exceptions like Susquehanna, but it remains a steady picture in this case. Like Arizona, it has been close in Florida almost all along. There was a brief five day period in late July when the Sunshine state drifted over into Lean Biden territory, but that moment was fleeting. Yet, the fact remains that as close as Florida has been, it has been consistently tipped toward the former vice president throughout much of 2020. The addition of these polls does not alter that. Even the polls that had Trump ahead -- Susquehanna, RMG and WaPo -- all either saw no shift since the last polls in the series or tightening that benefited Biden. And surveys that moved toward Trump tended to bring them in line with the prevailing average in the state at FHQ.

(Trump 48, Biden 46 via Insider Advantage | Biden 49, Trump 49 via Emerson | Biden 48, Trump 47 via YouGov/CCES)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +0.36] 
No previous Insider Advantage poll
Emerson: Trump 48, Biden 47 in mid-October poll
No previous YouGov/CCES poll

In the Peach state, once the average shares of both candidates are rounded, the count comes to a 47-47 tie. And again, the new surveys are largely in line with that. Only the Emerson poll offered a comparison to an earlier poll, and even there, the change was minimal. Georgia is close, the closest state on the board at the moment. 

(Trump 49, Biden 48 via Civiqs | Trump 49, Biden 47 via Emerson | Trump 48, Biden 46 via Insider Advantage | Trump 48, Biden 41 via Selzer)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +0.89] 
Civiqs: Biden 48, Trump 47 in early October poll
Emerson: Trump 48, Biden 48 in mid-October poll
Insider Advantage: Trump 45, Biden 45 in mid-October poll
Selzer: Trump 49, Biden 47 in September poll

Speaking of the closest states on the board, Iowa also fits that bill with Trump maintaining a narrow 47-46 (rounded) edge in the FHQ averages. Again, as in Georgia above, most of the new polls today are consistent with that established average. However, the one that stands out is the one that is often called he gold standard of polling in the Hawkeye state. And in that Selzer poll, the president stayed in the upper 40s like the last survey in September but Biden trailed off, dropping in to the low 40s. What is different from that last poll to the latest update is that five percent of the respondents refused to say who they were supporting in the new one. That was a segment of the electorate that was not accounted for in the previous poll. The crosstabs on that subsample of around 40 respondents in that poll would have been interesting to look at; not necessarily representative, but interesting. 

(Biden 54, Trump 43 via Emerson
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +13.40] 

Maine CD1
(Biden 58, Trump 39 via Emerson
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +22.92] 

Maine CD2
(Biden 50, Trump 47 via Emerson
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +1.88] 
No previous Emerson poll

FHQ will keep the focus in Maine on the second congressional district where the competition is. There has been no previous Emerson poll of the Pine Tree state, so there is no natural comparison, but Biden's lead in the averages there has stabilized around 47-45 (rounded). That is behind this poll of the district, yet not exactly inconsistent with it. Although there have been just 14 surveys in the field in ME CD2, 11 of them have favored the former vice president. Like the rest of those other toss ups close to the partisan line on the Biden side, the second is and has been close throughout, but consistently tilted toward the Democratic nominee. 

(Biden 53, Trump 45 via Ipsos | Biden 49, Trump 47 via Insider Advantage | Biden 52, Trump 46 via Emerson | Biden 53, Trump 41 via CNN | Biden 52, Trump 45 via Mitchell Research | Biden 48, Trump 41 via EPIC-MRA)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +7.31] 
Ipsos: Biden 53, Trump 43 in poll last week
No previous Insider Advantage poll
Emerson: Biden 54, Trump 43 in early October poll
CNN: Biden 52, Trump 40 in July poll
Mitchell: Biden 52, Trump 42 in poll last week
EPIC-MRA: Biden 48, Trump 39 in mid-October poll
Here is the deal in the Great Lakes state: Biden is already averaging over a 50 percent share of support there. Despite the fact that each of these polls today -- those with a predecessor in the series anyway -- show some narrowing, it is almost all on the Trump side of the equation. The former vice president is still stable and at or over the majority mark in each of these updates. The president may or may not close the gap some on election day, but if Biden is over 50 percent, it will not matter. 

(Biden 54, Trump 39 via St. Cloud State
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +8.52] 
No previous St. Cloud State poll

This St. Cloud State survey of the North Star state may be on the high side of the range for Biden and low side for Trump, but it remains in line with the 51-42 (rounded) average the race is currently at under the FHQ methodology. And as was said in Saturday's update, other than the Survey USA series, the majority of pollsters have generally found a race with Biden over 50 percent and Trump stuck in the low 40s, the latter of which is in the range of the president's overall job approval numbers nationally. 

Nebraska CD2
(Biden 50, Trump 48 via Emerson)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +6.69] 
No previous Emerson poll

The difference between this latest poll and the FHQ averages for NE CD2 are fairly stark. As of now, Biden holds a 51-44 (rounded) lead that looks a lot like the early polls out of the district over the summer. But that discrepancy likely has more to do with the general lack of polling activity in the Omaha area this year. The big polling issue on the state level in 2016 was that there were not a lot of polls in the field in the days before the election. Now, the swing is much less likely to be as large this time around -- there are fewer undecideds after all -- but the same sort of thing could be happening Nebraska's second as election day nears and partisans/partisan leaners come home. Regardless, Biden has been at or over 50 percent in all but one of the (yes, just) six public polls conducted in the district in 2020.

(Biden 49, Trump 47 via Emerson)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +4.34] 
No previous Emerson poll
Nevada is another jurisdiction where polling has been lacking all year, but where Biden has trailed only once. This Emerson poll hits the vice president's average FHQ share but has Trump running about three points ahead of his average share of support. That tighter margin may be partisans coming home to the president, Biden struggling with Latinos in the state and/or signs of the vaunted Harry Reid turnout machine faltering in the midst of a global pandemic. But the Silver state is another state where it is striking how close the Democratic nominee is to 50 percent. He is not there in this case, but Biden is approaching it in a way that neither Clinton nor Trump did four years ago. 

New Mexico
(Biden 54, Trump 42 via Research & Polling Inc.)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +10.64] 
Research & Polling: Biden 54, Trump 39 in September poll

In the Land of Enchantment, the FHQ averages have the race for the state's five electoral votes at 53-42 (rounded) in favor of the former vice president. This poll is evidence of the race coming in line with that more than it is about Trump gaining ground. This may have been a flip opportunity -- or a state that was eyed as one by the president's campaign operation -- but that has not panned out in any of the New Mexico polling in 2020.  

North Carolina
(Trump 50, Biden 48 via AtlasIntel | Trump 48, Biden 44 via Insider Advantage | Biden 47, Trump 47 via Emerson | Biden 51, Trump 45 via CNN | Trump 49, Biden 47 via Trafalgar Group | Biden 49, Trump 45 via YouGov/CCES)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +1.77] 
No previous AtlasIntel poll
No previous Insider Advantage poll
Emerson: Biden 49, Trump 49 in mid-October poll
CNN: Biden 49, Trump 46 in September poll
Trafalgar: Trump 49, Biden 46 in poll last week
No previous YouGov/CCES poll

Only half of the polls out today in North Carolina had a previous survey to which to compare, and two of those had Trump uncharacteristically ahead in a state where Biden has carried a narrow but consistent lead in the FHQ averages for much of the year. Currently, Biden is up 48-46 (rounded) and most of the surveys today are consistent with that. Some, like the CNN poll have Biden running toward the top end of this range while others like AtlasIntel have the president outperforming his average. The margin may have inched down a tick, but it remains tipped in Biden's direction in the Tar Heel state. 

(Trump 49, Biden 48 via Civiqs | Biden 50, Trump 49 via Emerson)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +0.95] 
Civiqs: Trump 50, Biden 47 in mid-October poll
Emerson: Trump 51, Biden 49 in May poll

One could make a mountain out of a molehill and suggest that the gap narrowed in both Buckeye state polls released today, but the truth is that both maintain an established status quo Trump lead in Ohio. With election day in sight, the president's 47-46 (rounded) advantage in the FHQ averages of Ohio are reflected in both surveys. But the key is less about who leads than how much Ohio has swung toward the Democrats since 2016. The shift there is in line with the seven point average swing across the whole country in 2020 polls. That Ohio is close at all is the story here. Whether Biden can flip it or Trump narrowly defend it is mostly immaterial to the quest for 270 electoral votes (especially in the winning Biden scenarios). 

(Biden 52, Trump 46 via Ipsos | Trump 49, Biden 47 via Insider Advantage | Biden 49, Trump 43 via Siena/NYT Upshot | Biden 52, Trump 47 via Emerson | Trump 50, Biden 49 via AtlasIntel | Biden 51, Trump 44 via ABC/WaPo | Biden 52, Trump 44 via YouGov/CCES)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +5.28] 
Ipsos: Biden 51, Trump 44 in poll last week
Insider Advantage: Trump 48, Biden 46 in poll last week
Siena: Biden 49, Trump 42 in early October poll
Emerson: Biden 51, Trump 47 in early October poll
No previous AtlasIntel poll
ABC/WaPo: Biden 54, Trump 45 in September poll
No previous YouGov/CCES poll

There is a prevailing take home that has emerged in the most frequently surveyed state in the 2020 presidential race. The first point on the checklist is always to ask whether Biden is around 50 percent and if Trump is in the mid-40s. This batch of polls checks that box for the most part. Those that do not, like the Emerson survey show no real movement poll-to-poll from the last update, have Biden over the majority mark (ABC/WaPo) or have the president ahead in a state where polls have shown that less than a tenth of the time. But that 50-44 (rounded) edge the former vice president has had has been among the most consistent realities of this race for months. That consistency has kept the Keystone state firmly lodged in the tipping point position well inside Biden's coalition of states.

(Trump 50, Biden 49 via Emerson | Trump 50, Biden 45 via Gravis Marketing | Trump 49, Biden 47 via YouGov/CCES)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +1.45] 
Emerson: Trump 52, Biden 48 in May poll
Gravis: Trump 46, Biden 44 in July poll
No previous YouGov/CCES poll

Like Iowa and Ohio, Texas has been a state that has swung toward the Democrats since 2016, but shifted in a manner that is in line with the average change across the country. That has made the Lone Star state look much more competitive in 2020, but it continues to be basically the North Carolina of the Trump side of the partisan line. The president has led throughout, but has maintained a narrow -- and at this point 48-46 (rounded) -- edge in the FHQ averages. The newly added surveys do little to disrupt that general outlook in Texas. 

(Trump 51, Biden 44 via Y2 Analytics)
[Current FHQ margin: Trump +13.44] 
Y2 Analytics: Trump 50, Biden 40 in early October poll

Look, this is among the rosiest polls a Democrat will likely ever get in the Beehive state. But then, the Y2 Analytics series of polls this year in Utah, has been that way for Joe Biden. But the fact remains that no Democrat has cleared 40 percent in Utah since Johnson carried the state in 1964. Obama came closest in 2008 with 35 percent there, but this series polls stands out in a state where the FHQ average has settled in at 52-39 (rounded) with Trump out in front.

(Biden 51, Trump 47 via Civiqs | Biden 53, Trump 45 via Ipsos | Biden 51, Trump 49 via AtlasIntel | Biden 53, Trump 45 via Emerson | Biden 49, Trump 46 via Susquehanna | Biden 52, Trump 41 via Siena/NYT Upshot | Trump 52, Biden 44 via CNN)
[Current FHQ margin: Biden +6.39] 
Civiqs: Biden 53, Trump 45 in mid-October poll
Ipsos: Biden 53, Trump 44 in poll last week
No previous AtlasIntel poll
Emerson: Biden 52, Trump 45 in September poll
Susquehanna: Biden 46, Trump 45 in mid-October poll
Siena: Trump 51, Biden 41 in mid-October poll
CNN: Biden 52, Trump 42 in September poll

There just is not that much different from one poll to the latest in this group of new surveys out of the Badger state. And two of the three polls that find a greater than one point change increase the former vice president's advantage there. But the bigger thing in Wisconsin is that Biden's average FHQ share has now, as in Michigan, surpassed the 50 percent threshold, a point he passes in six of the seven new polls today. Trump does not need Wisconsin, but with Biden north of 50 percent at FHQ in both Michigan and Wisconsin now, the president's margin for error is quite low. Without those two, Trump absolutely has to run the table through the Biden toss ups and claim the one remaining blue wall state he flipped (and where Biden is barely below 50 percent at FHQ), Pennsylvania. 


The Electoral College Spectrum1
NE CD2-1
(273 | 285)
(279 | 265)
SC -9
(290 | 259)
NE CD1-1
(319 | 248)
ME CD2-1
(335 | 219)
(351 | 203)
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 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.

57 new polls from 16 states and another poll out of the second district in Nebraska led to the following changes:
  • Nebraska CD2 moves into the middle column at the very top, a once cell shift toward the partisan line.
  • Arizona and Florida traded spots on the Electoral College Spectrum with the Sunshine state moving closer the partisan line. 
  • Speaking of the partisan line, Maine CD2 moved away from it and to the other side of North Carolina in the order. 
  • Wisconsin saw Joe Biden's share of support push across the 50 percent barrier there. 

2 days to go.

Where things stood at FHQ two days before election day (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 Toss Up Trump
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Lean Trump
to Strong Trump
from Toss Up Biden
to Lean Biden
New Hampshire
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
New Mexico
from Strong Biden
to Lean Biden
from Toss Up Trump
to Toss Up Biden
from Lean Biden
to Toss Up 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.

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