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Electoral College: Bad Polling Day for Trump

States with new poll data since the last update: Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Kentucky.

It looks like Trump’s last couple of bad weeks are starting to hit the state poll averages. In this update, we have model changes caused by the movement in three states. All three changes favor Clinton.

Going through them one by one…

Michigan [16 EV]

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First of all, I will point out a new feature on these charts. There are now vertical dotted lines marking significant campaign events. Right now that is the Iowa caucuses, when the candidates won their primaries and the conventions. When/if debates happen, they will get marked as well. This is helpful in understanding the moves vs what may be going on in the campaign.

In Michigan specifically, you can see that Trump was gaining on Clinton in the run up to the conventions. The average popped up into the “close state” zone right before the conventions started. But with the first post-convention polls, Clinton’s lead increases again. She now has a 6.1% lead in Michigan, and the state is no longer included in Trump’s “best case”.

New Hampshire [4 EV]

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A poll taken during the Republican convention was the best result Trump has ever gotten in New Hampshire. This had moved the average to an very narrow 0.3% Clinton lead. The first results from after the Democratic convention on the other hand are some of the worst results Trump has seen in New Hampshire, and Clinton’s lead rises to 6.4%. So, like Michigan, New Hampshire is no longer looking like a possible Trump pick up. Since New Hampshire also moved past the tipping point, the tipping point also moved.

Now, both the Trump result during the Republican convention, and these new results look like outliers. Every other poll since May has been between a tie and Clinton +5%. So polls showing Trump up by 9.4%, or polls showing Clinton up by 17% should all be taken with a massive grain of salt. Given national trends some swing toward Clinton is expected, but we need to see more polls before concluding that the swing toward Clinton in New Hampshire is quite as large as the new polling indicates.* This is of course why we only look at averages rather than individual polls. The average moved quite a bit, but it doesn’t instantly snap to these new results. But it still moves enough to make a difference.

Florida [27 EV]

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The first post-convention results in Florida move the average toward Clinton. Florida goes from a 0.7% Clinton lead to a 3.8% Clinton lead. No category change here. Florida is still weak Clinton, but since the average passes the tipping point, the tipping point gets shifted.

National View

With each of the three states that caused changes out of the way, time to look at the national picture.

First the “bubble” showing the best and expected cases over time:

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Right before the Democratic convention ended, Trump’s best case was up to winning by 98 electoral votes. Since then Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Hampshire have slipped out of reach. His best case is now down to winning by only 18 electoral votes. He is one bad poll in Virginia, Florida, or North Carolina away from once again having his best case be a loss.

And with the movements in Florida and New Hampshire the tipping point moves dramatically as well:

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The tipping point margin… that is the margin in the state that would put the candidate “over the top” if you order the states by how strongly they support the candidates, moves from Clinton by 2.3% in North Carolina to Clinton by 3.9% in Virginia.

Before the conventions, Trump had dramatically improved his position in the tipping point. He was still losing, but by much less than before. He has now given up about 40% of the margin he gained.

A 3.9% tipping point margin… which is basically equivalent to the national popular vote margin, but adjusted for the structure of the electoral college… is still a close race. But not as close as it was before the conventions… and there are many close states that have not yet had post-convention polls.

Given where national polling is right now, once we do get more state polls, it would not be surprising to see Trump continue to drop in the short term.

95.7 days until the first polls start to close on election day.

* For the wonkiest of you out there: All three results showing Clinton up by double digits were from the same underlying WBUR poll sliced in different ways, so were not actually fully independent samples, so they don’t count as additional confirmation. This election cycle when I have a single poll that reports multiple results…  just 2 candidates along side with 4 candidates, or registered voters and likely voters, or first response vs pushing leaners, I’m including ALL of the results rather than having some set of rules for picking only one. There are strong arguments for NOT doing this, specifically what I just mentioned about the results not being truly independent of each other, so you essentially end up giving more weight than you would otherwise to that pollster, simply because they reported their results in several different ways. I am simply defaulting to including everything on the theory that being more complete is better. I do understand the downsides though. I may decide to handle this a different way in 2020, but this is how it is for 2016. :-)

Note: This post is an update based on the data on ElectionGraphs.com. Election Graphs tracks both a poll based estimate of the Electoral College and a numbers based look at the Delegate Races. All of the charts and graphs seen in this post are from that site. Additional graphs, charts and raw data can be found there. Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or like Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates or to join the conversation. For those interested in individual general election poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as they are added. If you find the information in these posts interesting or useful, please consider visiting the tip jar.