Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Biden Advantage in Electoral Vote; Handful of States Will Decide

Referenced in every commentary, reinforced by 2016, is that the national popular vote is not the deciding factor in the presidential race, rather the election will be decided in a handful of battleground states. But as Joe Biden’s recent acceleration in the national polls shows, an 8- to 10-point advantage nationally tends to translate to winning percentages in most swing states. In fact, it tends to add states to the list.

And, indeed, leading prognosticator Professor Larry Sabato’s latest Crystal Ball map shows more states in the toss-up category and more states now leaning toward Joe Biden. Sabato’s November map, now updated, showed three toss-up states with 42 electoral votes. He now lists four with 66 toss-up votes. But the bigger difference is the states leaning toward the respective candidates. In November, the two parties were nearly tied in electoral votes, and today, Democrats are assigned 268 vs. Republicans 204 (270 to win) (see table below).

The campaigns mainly agree with the listing, with heavy advertising in the toss-up states and the Trump campaign expanding into newly vulnerable states he won in 2016, such as Iowa, Georgia and Ohio (see the two maps below).

2020 Electoral College Ratings
July 14, 2020

2020 Electoral College Ratings
Nov. 7, 2019

The shifts from earlier this year to the new July map reflect a month of polling that reports Joe Biden ahead by 8 to 10 points over Donald Trump, with most swing states having Biden leading by 3 to 6 points. The shifts include Pennsylvania and Michigan moving out of “toss-up” to “lean Democratic” and Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska’s 2nd District moving from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.”

Two of the other most frequently cited prognosticators have just updated their Electoral College projections and they give Biden even bigger leads. The Cook Political Report of July 14 describes 72 toss-up states and 279 electoral votes for Biden and only 187 for Trump. Their toss-up list is Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Maine’s 2nd congressional seat. They list possible additional Trump losses if the campaign doesn’t right itself in Iowa, Ohio and Texas. Cook cites Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional seat as states that lean Biden, but could shift.

Nathan Gonzales and Stuart Rothenberg produced a July 17 report (Inside Elections) projecting Biden ahead of Trump 319 to 187, respectively. Well over the 270 needed for election. They have named four states – Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd District – from “toss-up” to “tilt Democratic.” They moved Georgia and Maine’s 2nd District from “lean” and “tilt Republican,” respectively, to “toss-up.”

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