Swing state vs. Battleground state
April 29, 2012 2 Comments
I think it’s safe to say most pundits use those terms fairly interchangeably, but Nate Silver argues for a much more narrow definition of the former in which a swing state is one in which the outcome of the election could genuinely hinge upon:
Let me remind you about how I use the term “swing state” here at FiveThirtyEight. When I employ the term, I mean a state that could swing the outcome of the election. That is, if the state changed hands, the victor in the Electoral College would change as well.
The most rigorous way to define this is to sort the states in order of the most Democratic to the least Democratic, or most Republican to least Republican. Then count up the number of votes the candidate accumulates as he wins successively more difficult states. The state that provides him with the 270th electoral vote, clinching an Electoral College majority, is the swingiest state — the specific term I use for it is the “tipping point state.”
We then get a cool graphic of where we can see which states are most likely to swing the election:
From this, we can see that the states most likely to affect the outcome (clustered around 270 electoral votes for Obama) are MN, NH, IA, CO, VA, and OH. As much as I love that NC is being considered a “swing state” for 2012, as with Arizona (the focus of Silver’s post), if Obama wins here, he’s probably already clinched the election.