The Quick and Dirty on Swing States
Hey kids, here’s your quick and dirty guide to swing states, which are significant in that they don’t follow predictable patterns in elections.
You can predict what states like California and Alabama will do in terms of which party they will vote for, but states like North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida are a different story.
Colorado has a large hispanic population and the Democrats turned the state in 2004, 2006 and 2008. This is similar to what happened in Virginia in 2008…a traditionaly red state. (This is also what happened in North Carolina, making it a swing state to watch in 2012.) Nevada’s population growth has set NV squarely in swing state status. (It is worth noting that Nevada has population of well-connected Mormons.)
While New Hampshire is surrounded by “blue states,” the independent nature of its voters leads it to be considered a swing state in most election cycles. However, New Hampshire ultimately voted Democratic in four of the last five elections.
Pennsylvania is generally considered a swing state, but has voted Democrat in the last five elections.
Of the swing states, Florida is the largest prize. It’s the largest number of electoral votes in a truly contested state. Currently, the State House, Senate and Governor’s office are all controlled by a GOP majority.
Ohio has been a battleground in recent elections due to the closeness of the vote and its wealth of electoral votes (currently 18). In these elections, the Buckeye State has proved itself to be a remarkably good predictor of the election winner.
Last but not least is Iowa. Iowa currently leans Democrat, however the closeness of the general election vote and the importance of its caucuses, which kick off the nominating process every election cycle, give Iowa tremendous influence on who ultimately gets elected president.
Dina Fraioli is a political message strategist and media consultant in Washington DC. You can find her on Twitter at @DinaFraioli