Election day is finally here in the USA, and tonight’s results could be anyone’s game, according to recent polls.
Six states have been identified as pivotal to this year’s election outcome, defining the results on November 3.
Now, more than ever, it is important for Donald Trump and Joe Biden to win over the coveted swing states.
The US election process can be confusing, so here is all you need to know about swing states and why they are important.
What are swing states?
The term swing state refers to any state that could reasonably be won by either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate – they could go either way.
These are states where both parties have similar levels of support, and the margin between candidates is often minute.
The swing states – also known as ‘battleground states’ are important in determining the outcome of the election.
These states are usually targeted by both major-party campaigns.
The US uses an electoral college voting system, where each of the 50 states is assigned a number of ‘electors’ based on their population size, with each getting elector getting one vote.
The bigger the population, the more electors they have, and the more votes the state is awarded.
These state electors will cast their votes for whoever wins the popular vote in their state (for example, in 2016, Trump won the North Dakota popular vote, so all three of that state’s electoral votes went to him).
To become president either candidate needs to win a majority of the 538 electors – 270 college electoral votes.
What are this year’s swing states?
Below are the 2020 swing states and their number of college electoral votes, defined by Real Clear Politics:
- Arizona (9)
- North Carolina (13)
- Florida (27)
- Michigan (14)
- Pennsylvania (18)
- Wisconsin (8)
Donald Trump won narrowly in these states against Hillary Clinton in 2016, helping him secure his victory.
Clinton’s campaign underestimated Republican support among the working class in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – all of which had been loyally voting for the Democrats since at least the 1990s.
Mr Trump’s margin of victory in each of these three states was under one percentage point but won him 46 college votes – 15% of his final total.
What previous elections have been defined by swing states?
In 1948, Harry S. Truman defeated Thomas Dewey with a win of less than 1% 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.
Then, in 1960, the presidential election between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy saw 10 states won by less than two per cent of the vote.
In 2000, the election results came down to Florida’s win, which saw George W. Bush become president by just 537 votes.
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US election 2020
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Wondering how it all works? Check out our guide to the most Googled questions on the 2020 election which covers everything you need to know about swing states, the electoral college, and everything in between.
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