What determines a swing state?
Swing states can shift between each election cycle, and they can be determined by looking at past results, opinion polls, political trends and any strengths or weaknesses of the candidates involved, and their policies. Other areas that can influence gradual shifts of swing states are changes in population and demographics.
Why are they so important?
This year North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona could all be decisive in the election’s outcome. They are all states which Mr Trump won narrowly against Hillary Clinton in 2016, helping him secure his electoral college victory. Retaining them is crucial to his re-election hopes.
There are six states that everyone has their eyes on in this election, most evident from the money spent on advertising and travel in Trump and Biden’s campaigns. They include the three Rust Belt states that Trump won in 2016. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan were once considered the Blue Wall, but Trump managed to turn them red in the last election.
Biden is currently ahead in the polls for Michigan’s votes. The state has large white suburbs, union members and black voters. If Biden loses Michigan it’s hard to see how he can claim presidency this year.
If it hadn’t have been for Covid-19, Joe Biden would have accept the Democratic nomination at the party’s in Wisconsin. He was keen to show the importance of the state and to learn from his predecessors’ mistakes. Hillary Clinton didn’t visit the state once during her 2016 campaign, and despite polling well there, she lost the state to Trump.
Before 2016, Pennsylvania was a Democrat state with lots of coal and steel communities and deep ties to the trade unions. Donald Trump campaigned hard there in 2016, promising to bring back mining and manufacturing jobs and he’s been doing the same again this year. Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania, spending his early years in the city of Scranton, where their are now many Biden supporters.
The other three states to watch are the southern sunbelt states of Florida, Arizona and North Carolina. Florida is almost always close in presidential elections. It’s generally a conservative state, but it’s also diverse demographically. Since 1964, the candidate that has won Florida has always won the White House, apart from in 1992.
Democrats haven’t won Arizona since 1996, so it’s unusual to be known as a swing state. The growing Latino population, migration from California and changing attitudes from white college educated voters are all important factors that could turn this state blue.
North Carolina was once a red state through and through. They elected Republicans in the 80s, 90s and the early 2000s. Patterns changed when Obama won here in 2008. North Carolina’s demographics are changing. Many people from traditional blue states are moving to the tar heel state. The state’s voting habits are divided between urban and rural areas. In 2016, suburban voters turned out for Donald Trump
The history of swing states
The history of American elections have proved the importance of swing states. In 1948, Harry S. Truman defeated Thomas Dewey with a win of less than one per cent of the popular vote in then-swing states California, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and New York. The presidential race was so close that newspaper headlines mistakenly reported Mr Dewey as the winner.