Swing state

Swing state

A swing state (also, battleground state or purple state) in United States presidential politics is a state in which no candidate has overwhelming support, meaning that any of the major candidates have a reasonable chance of winning the state's electoral college votes. Such states are targets of both major political parties in presidential elections, since winning these states is the best opportunity for a party to gain electoral votes. Non-swing states are sometimes called safe states, because one candidate has strong enough support that they can safely assume they will win the state's votes.

Origin of swing states

during the [ winning additional votes in a state that will still be lost. In other words, Presidential candidates have no incentive to spend time or resources in states they are likely to win or lose by a sizeable margin.

Since a national campaign is interested in electoral votes, rather than the national popular vote, it tends to ignore states that it believes it will win easily; since it will win these without significant campaigning, any effort put into them is essentially wasted. A similar logic dictates that the campaign avoid putting any effort into states that it knows it will lose.

For instance, a Republican candidate (the more conservative of the two major parties) can easily expect to win many of the Southern states like Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina, which historically have a very conservative culture and a more recent history of voting for Republican candidates. Similarly, the same candidate can expect to lose California, Vermont, Hawaii, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, traditionally liberal states, no matter how much campaigning is done in those states. The only states which the campaign would target to spend time, money, and energy in are those that could be won by either candidate. These are the swing states.

In Maine and Nebraska, two electoral votes go to the person who wins a plurality in the state, and a candidate gets one additional electoral vote for each Congressional District in which they receive a plurality. Both of these states have relatively few electoral votes (for the 2004 election, Maine had 4 and Nebraska had 5; the minimum is 3) and are usually not considered swing states (Maine is generally considered a Democratic-leaning state while Nebraska is typically thought to be a Republican state). Despite their different rules, neither has ever had a split electoral vote.

In the 2004 elections Colorado voted on Amendment 36, an initiative which would have allocated the state's electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote in the state. The initiative would have taken effect immediately, applying to the selection of electors in the same election. However, the initiative failed and Colorado remains under the winner-take-all system that is present in 48 states.

Determining swing states

The "Oregon Daily Emerald" cited University of Oregon political science professor Joel Bloom as mentioning three factors in identifying a swing state: "examining statewide opinion polls, political party registration numbers and the results of previous elections." The article also cites Leighton Woodhouse, co-director of "Driving Votes," as claiming that there is a general consensus among most groups regarding about 75 percent of the states typically thought of as swing states. [" [http://media.www.dailyemerald.com/media/storage/paper859/news/2004/10/04/News/Portrait.Of.A.Swing.State-1969197.shtml Portrait of a swing State] ", Meghan Cunhiff, "Oregon Daily Emerald", October 4, 2004.]

Historical swing states

The swing states of Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey and New York were key to the outcome of the 1888 election, [ " [http://elections.harpweek.com/1888/Overview-1888-4.htm 1888 Overview] " p.4, "HarpWeek".] and Illinois [" [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/21/national/21daley.html Daley Remembered as Last of the Big-City Bosses] ", David Rosenbaum, "New York Times", April 21, 2005.] and Texas were key to the outcome of the 1960 election. Ohio has often been considered a swing state, [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/02/arts/02camp.html Trolling the Campuses for Swing-State Votes] , Julie Salamon, "The New York Times", October 2, 2004] [ [http://www.slate.com/id/2108640/ Game Theory for Swingers] , Jordan Ellenberg, "Slate.com", October 25, 2004] [ [http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/07/25/loc_ohconvention25.html Swing-state status lifts Ohio delegates' prestige] Carl Weiser, "Cincinnati Enquirer, July 25, 2004" ] , particularly during the 2004 election, having voted with the winner in every election since 1948 except for 1960, [ [http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Vote2008/Story?id=3826822&page=1 As Ohio Goes, So Goes the Nation...Again] , Kate Snow, ABC World News, November 6, 2007] and Missouri has voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1904, save for its support of Adlai Stevenson in 1956, prompting the state's reputation as a bellwether. [" [http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/12/13/got.here/index.html How we got here: A timeline of the Florida recount] ", CNN, December 13, 2000.]

Recent swing states

*Florida: The outcome of 2000 presidential election hung on a margin of 537 votes in this state and the fierce legal battles that ensued. Florida's electorate is balanced by heavily Democratic large cities like Miami, heavily Republican large cities such as Jacksonville, and sparser, more Republican areas like the Florida Panhandle.
*Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania is famously described by Democratic strategist James Carville as "you’ve got Philadelphia at one end of the state, Pittsburgh at the other end, and Alabama in the middle.” [" [http://mac10.umc.pitt.edu/u/FMPro?-db=ustory&-lay=a&-format=d.html&storyid=2687&-Find Pitt could see more attempts by legislators to micro-manage] ", University of Pittsburgh University Times, October 10, 2007.] Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortés stated on March 17, 2007, that "The commonwealth’s large number of electoral college votes and diverse population make Pennsylvania a key battleground state." [" [http://www.dos.state.pa.us/dos/lib/dos/press/2007/presidential_primary_03-13-07.pdf Rendell Administration Supports Giving Pennsylvanians a Voice in Presidential Primary] ", Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State, March 13, 2007.]
*Ohio: "I think 2008 is very likely to be a hotly contested race in Ohio," stated Eric Rademacher, director of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll, for the "Cincinnati Enquirer". [ [http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/11/04/loc_oh2008.html Intense 2008 election forecast for Ohio] ] Its 20 electoral votes were critical to President Bush's reelection in 2004.

Other terms for "swing state"

*Battleground state
*Purple state, so named because purple is the combination of the colors red and blue, which are used to represent Republican- and Democratic-majority states, respectively. See Red states and blue states.

See also

* Red state vs. blue state divide
* Marginal seat in other countries' elections
* List of U.S. swing states
* Missouri bellwether
* Swing Vote (2008 film)


External links

* [http://www.swingstatethemovie.com Swing State Ohio Documentary]
* [http://www.inthezoneproductions.net Swing State feature documentary project]
* [http://www.cccarto.com/congress_maps/index.html 2004 clickable Swing State Maps showing county data and results]
* [http://www.cnn.com/interactive/allpolitics/0010/battleground.states/battlegroundstates.html Coverage of battleground states in 2000 election] from CNN
* [http://slate.msn.com/id/2101779/ Guide to the 2004 swing states] from "Slate"
* [http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2004/battleground04.html Battleground states] from "Democracy in Action" site hosted by George Washington University
* [http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=578 The Swing States] from "Intervention Magazine"
* [http://www.swingstateproject.com/ Swing State Project] , a law student's weblog
* [http://www.swingstatevoices.com Swing State Voices, a Website for discussion between citizens of the key 2008 battleground states]
* [http://presidentalelections.blogspot.com/ Uwe-Jürgen Ness et al - Conclusion of All Polls in Each State since January 2008, Forecasts on the Base of all Polls, Definitions of Criterias regarding "Swing States", Discussion of Scientific Methods regarding Polls]
* [http://www.fabmac.com/FMA-2004-07-08-Undecideds.pdf The Bush campaign memo detailing its look at the swing states (PDF file)]
* [http://www.msu.edu/~sheppa28/elections.html#states How close were Presidential Elections? Influential States] - Michael Sheppard, Michigan State University
* [http://www.americanfeud.org/ American Feud: A History of Conservatives and Liberals] , a documentary film about the history of both movements

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