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It’s all in the Swing States

The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is set in the United States Constitution as the date for Elections to the Presidency and to Congress. This year that date is November 8th and that night (or early the next morning) we will find out who will be the next President of the United States: Hillary Rodham Clinton or Donald J. Trump.

With National Polls showing a tightening race between the Democratic and Republican nominees as we get closer to Election Day, we need to pay more and more attention to the “Swing” or “Battleground” States. These 14 states are the states that political commentators, or election nuts, will be watching on the night of the eighth for swings towards either candidate. Of course these states are also important, as early voting gets under way in Ohio on October 12th, where 16% of the votes were cast by mail and 7.5% in early voting centres, and North Carolina on October 27th where 38.5% of the ballots were cast before Election Day.

So what states will be the ones to watch? They are: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Georgia, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. These 14 states represent 183 of the 568 Electoral College votes being contested by Secretary Clinton and Mr Trump, who will both be aiming to reach the magic number of 270.

Also among States to watch will be Maine and Nebraska: these two states are the only states that have the ability to split their electoral college vote, with the winner of each of the Congressional Districts getting one vote, and one vote going to the overall winner. Both Maine’s 2nd Congressional District and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District look set to vote differently from the rest of their state.

With Democrats having an inbuilt advantage in the Electoral College thanks to California and its 55 Electoral College votes, giving them about 200 guaranteed Electoral Votes to 150 for the Republicans, means that both parties place a lot of effort and importance on these swing states.

Let’s take a closer look at these Swing States

Electoral College Votes: 20
2012 Result: 52% Obama – 46.6% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 1988 (Reagan)

Pennsylvania has been a close democratic state since Bill Clinton’s 1st election in 1992, but with its out of work steelworkers, and its history of Reagan-Democrats, Trump could do well here. The polls, however, tell a different story; Trump hasn’t led in a state poll in the Keystone State since June, and with Clinton & her allies heavily outspending him on the airways in the state, it will be hard for him to close the gap with Clinton.

Electoral College Votes: 16
2012 Result: 54.2% Obama – 44.7% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 1988 (Reagan)

Michigan is generally considered to be leaning towards a Clinton win. She has led consistently over the summer, but with recent events she has seen her lead over Trump get tighter, just like the national polls. The Great Lakes State has been in the Democratic Column since Bill Clinton in ‘92 and doesn’t look like it will change colour in 2016.

Electoral College Votes: 18
2012 Result: 50.7% Obama – 47.7% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2004 (Bush)

No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, and this year looks no different. This will be one of the fiercest Battleground States in this election cycle, and will see the Big Guns being brought out as surrogates on the campaign trail in the Buckeye State, including the Clinton Campaign rolling out the West Wing Cast around the state during one weekend in September. Trump has held close in the polling in Ohio, and recently opened a consistent lead over Clinton.

Electoral College Votes: 29
2012 Result: 50% Obama – 49.1% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2004 (Bush)

Florida is biggest prize on the table with its 29 Electoral College votes. Florida, of course, is ‘fondly’ remember for its marathon recount and “hanging chads” back in 2000 and it hasn’t lost a bit of its importance in Presidential elections. This was Obama’s narrowest margin of victory in 2012. Polling in the Sunshine State shows a close battle between Trump and Clinton, with both trading slim leads in recent state polling.

Electoral College Votes: 6
2012 Result: 52% Obama – 46.2% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2004 (Bush)

Iowa is known for its ‘first in the nation’ caucuses, which help decide the nominees of the major parties; Iowa is also a swing state. Having voted Democrat in five of the last six contests, it could be considered to lean Democrat, but polling there shows Donald Trump edging out a lead since the end of the summer. The Hawkeye State will certainly be one to watch as Election Day nears.

Electoral College Votes: 10
2012 Result: 52.8% Obama – 45.9% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 1984 (Reagan)

Wisconsin is firmly in the ‘clear Democrat’ category, having not voted Republican since Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984. Clinton has consistently lead in the polling here. Similar to the national polls, polls in the Badger State have tightened as of late, and if Trump works hard he could make an impact here.

North Carolina
Electoral College Votes: 15
2012 Result: 50.4% Romney – 48.4% Obama
Last Democratic Victory: 2008 (Obama)
Last Republican Victory: 2012

In 2008 North Carolina voted Democrat for the first time since Jimmy Carter’s win in 1976, and this year is proving hard for Clinton to open a lead here. Recent polling ranges from ties to Trump leading by between 1-5 points.

Electoral College Votes: 13
2012 Result: 51.2% Obama – 47.3% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2004 (Bush)

This normally solid Republican state was brought into the blue column by Obama in 2008 and 2012. Prior to that, the last time the Old Dominion State went Democrat was for Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 Election. Demographic changes are why this state is now more competitive, and polling for this year’s election makes it likely that Virginia will vote for Clinton.

New Hampshire
Electoral College Votes: 4
2012 Result: 52% Obama – 46.4% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2000 (Bush)

New Hampshire is a bit odd among its New England neighbours who are solid Democrat support states. This is put down to the more independent nature of the voters in the Granite State, who play a unique a role in the presidential nomination cycle. This year, according to the polling, it is could be a close-run thing, with Clinton narrowly ahead.

Electoral College Votes: 16
2012 Result: 53.3% Romney – 45.5% Obama
Last Democratic Victory: 1992 (B. Clinton)
Last Republican Victory: 2012

Georgia has been a solid Republican state, apart from occasions when Southern Democrats run for President, evident from Jimmy Carter’s election victories in 1976 and 1980, as well as Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory. This year, with another Clinton on the ticket, the Peach State is back in play. With Clinton’s strong showing in the South during the Primaries, Clinton could make victory here hard for Trump. With polling in Georgia switching sides since the summer, now showing Trump ahead, it will be one to watch one election night.

Electoral College Votes: 10
2012 Result: 53.8% Romney – 44.4% Obama
Last Democratic Victory: 1996 (Clinton)
Last Republican Victory: 2012

Missouri has, until recently, been a true battleground state, with great accuracy at voting for the overall election winner. From 1904 through to 2004, voters in the Show Me State got it wrong just once in 1956, voting for Adlai Stevenson over Dwight ‘Ike’ Eisenhower. Since 2000 Missouri has voted Republican, and this year looks to be no different. Missouri is showing a wide lead for Trump over Clinton, but everything could change as we face the final run into the election.

Electoral College Votes: 9
2012 Result: 51.5% Obama – 46.1% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2004 (Bush)

Colorado is nearly entirely surrounded by Red States (apart from New Mexico to the South), and has voted Republican for the majority of its history apart from Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992 and Obama’s victories in 2008 & 2012. Colorado is a state that is tightening in the polls, and with Libertarian Gary Johnson from neighbouring New Mexico on the ticket, it could mean a close margin of victory here. With state polls in the Centennial State mirroring the national polls in showing a tightening race, it really is all to play for.

Electoral College Votes: 6
2012 Result: 52.4% Obama – 45.7% Romney
Last Democratic Victory: 2012
Last Republican Victory: 2004 (Bush)

Nevada has been a swing state for the last number of elections; over the summer Clinton looked comfortably ahead in the Silver State, but since the end of summer Trump has seen a surge in support, taking the lead in a number of state polls. Nevada will more than likely see the candidates trade & swap the state ahead of the election in the hope of turning out every available voter.

Electoral College Votes: 11
2012 Result: 53.7% Romney – 44.6% Obama
Last Democratic Victory: 1996 (B. Clinton)
Last Republican Victory: 2012

Arizona has consistently voted Republican since 1952, with the only exception being Bill Clinton when he won the state back in ‘92, and it has been a closely fought state ever since. The Grand Canyon State is also showing some tightening in the polls, but in the reverse to national polls, as Trump finds his lead under threat in the most recent polls. While it certainly leans Republican it is certainly worth a watch.

With the election decided in these 14 states, and congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska, it will be a long night on November 8th to find out who will be elected the 45th President of the United States.



Stephen Spillane

30 year old Cork feen who should have left UCC years ago, but still writing for the Express. Has written for a number of websites including Spirituality Ireland and ESC Ireland. Interests include Politics, Religion and other things that shouldn't be spoken about in polite company.