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.
What’s the state of play in each one?
There are 10 states that everyone has had their eyes on in this election, most evident from the money spent on advertising and travel in Mr Trump and Mr Biden’s campaigns. They include the three Rust Belt states that Mr Trump won in 2016: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They were once considered the Blue Wall, but Mr Trump managed to turn them red in the last election.
Mr Biden has won Michigan in a positive turn for the Democratic campaign. Mr Biden was ahead in the polls for Michigan, a state which has large white suburbs, union members and black voters.
If it hadn’t been for Covid-19, Mr Biden would have accept the Democratic nomination in Wisconsin. He was keen to show the importance of the state and to learn from his predecessors’ mistakes. Hillary Clinton didn’t visit it once during her 2016 campaign, and despite polling well there, she lost the state to Mr Trump. Mr Biden was well ahead in the polls going into the election and ended up with a win here.
Before 2016, Pennsylvania was a Democrat state with deep ties to the trade unions. Mr Trump campaigned hard there in 2016, promising to bring back mining and manufacturing jobs and he’s been doing the same again this year. Mr Biden was born in Pennsylvania, spending his early years in the city of Scranton. Despite President Trump’s large early lead, the state is now very tight, as a majority of the areas who are still to call are historically blue. Pennsylvania will also be very slow to count its ballots and we may not know the final result until Friday or later. Though, officials have suggested that Philadelphia’s results will be released this Friday morning, local time (EST).
Four other states to watch were the southern sunbelt states of Florida, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina. Florida is almost always close in a presidential election and Mr Trump has now won that state. Since 1964, the candidate that has won Florida has always won the White House, apart from in 1992. Mr Trump surprised pollsters by winning Florida handily, despite predictions of a close race or a Biden victory.
Democrats haven’t won Arizona since 1996, so it’s unusual for it to be a swing state. It was the home state of the godfather of modern US conservatism, Barry Goldwater, and for much of the Obama administration was seen as a lab for hardline anti-immigration policies. The growing Latino population, migration from California and changing attitudes from white, college-educated voters, however, were are all important factors that turned this state blue and gave Mr Biden the win. Although dozens of angry supporters of President Donald Trump converged on vote-counting centres in Phoenix as the returns went against him on Wednesday. The protests came as Mr Trump insisted without evidence that there were major problems with the voting and the ballot counting, especially with mail-in votes.
Texas was another new swing-state on the block. It is the second biggest state in the country. With 38 electoral votes, second only to California, the way Texas swings has a significant impact on the election result. In the end, Mr Trump claimed Texas with ease, with the Democrat surge failing to materialise despite heavy spending in the state.