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US Election 2020 Live Results: Will it be Joe Biden or Donald Trump for President?
The key for either party to win the presidential election is to target specific swing states, also known as a battleground or purple states.
These battleground states are areas which have unclear party loyalties and have historically swung between voting for Republican and Democrat candidates in past elections.
Due to the winner-take-all voting system in all but two states, candidates often choose to campaign in the most competitive states. This is why only select areas receive the majority of adverts during election campaigns.
Here’s everything you need to know about the history of swing states and why their influence can be so powerful in US elections.
There are nine swing states where the 2020 election could be won or lost:
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.
There are seven 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. They were once considered the Blue Wall, but Trump managed to turn them red in the last election. Retaining them is crucial to his re-election hopes.
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 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 four states to watch are the southern sunbelt states of Florida, Arizona, Texas 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.
Texas is 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. Rapid demographic change across the state could work in Mr Biden’s favour. Urban counties, which tend to lean toward the Democrats, now account for 69 per cent of the state’s votes. Dissatisfaction with Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic could also hurt him in Texas, where 17,700 people have died from Covid-19. A poor performance by Mr Trump could alter the state’s political landscape for the next decade.
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 traditionally 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 American elections has 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.
The 1960 presidential election between 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 George W. Bush claimed by a margin of just 537 votes.
If the polls are to be trusted, Mr Biden holds a competitive edge over Mr Trump in all of them.
Pollsters attributed Mr Biden’s lead to support among white university-educated voters, while Mr Trump’s support among white working-class voters is waning.
Currently, the 10-poll average indicates that just over half of Americans intend to back Mr Biden while Mr Trump’s support trails this by around five or six points.
Read more: Joe Biden vs Donald Trump 2020 policies
All 50 US states and Washington DC have a set number of “electors” in the electoral college – roughly proportionate to the size of each state.
Each state gets at least three electoral votes because the amount is equal to its total number of Senators and Representatives in the US Congress. Washington DC also gets three electoral college votes, meaning a total of 538 electors form the Electoral College.
California, the largest state, has 55 electoral votes, Texas, the next largest, gets 38. New York and Florida have 29 each.
All but two states – Maine and Nebraska – use a winner-takes-all system, so if you win the most votes in a state, you take its entire haul of electoral college votes.
To become president either candidate needs to win a majority of the 538 electors; ie 270 electors.
While the Constitution does not dictate that electors follow the popular vote, many US states have laws requiring them to do so. These laws have been challenged by electors voting for someone else on occasion, but in July, the US Supreme Court ruled that electors must follow the popular vote in states that have passed such a law.
The electoral college system does usually reflect the popular vote – presidents have won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote just five times in US history. The most recent instance was in 2016, when Donald Trump won the electoral college but Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, won the popular vote.
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