Swing states critical in U.S. election

Nov 5, 2012 | News

By Matt Creed

With both candidates polling fairly even in the 2012 U.S. election, once again it will come down to the swing states to decide the presidential victor.

“The U.S. is a deeply partisan country where you have very similar numbers between Republicans and Democrats,” Blake Lambert, political science professor at Humber College, told Humber News.

“Certain states are locked to each party and then you have the other states that turn each election,” he said.

It was the year 2000, and both Al Gore, and George W. Bush, were neck and neck in what would become one of the closest outcomes in a presidential election in U.S. history.

Despite Gore being ahead in the popular vote, as they drew closer to the wire, it became apparent that Florida – historically a swing state – would be the deciding state, holding 25 electoral votes.

“It doesn’t matter who gets the most national votes as Al Gore found out in 2000 – what matters is who wins the most electoral college votes,” Renan Levine, a political lecturer at the University of Toronto, told Humber News.

This map outlines the states controlled by both parties in 2012. Red represents the Republican states, while Blue represents the Democratic states. The swing states are represented by both blue and red stripes. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Levine said often the deciding electoral votes come down to states, which are considered “swing states” or otherwise known as “battleground states” or “purple states.”

“The swing states are the ones where they typically have a fair amount of population, and that population appears to be close to evenly split between Democrats and Republicans,” Levine said.

“States like Ohio, Colorado, Nevada – these are all states that mean a great deal, because they could mean the difference between Obama winning, Romney winning, or possibly a tie,” he said.

In the 2000 U.S. election, Florida was the determining swing state having held the balance of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency.

However, given that both Obama and Romney are polling fairly close to one another heading into Tuesday’s election, Levine said that this year it would be Ohio, which narrowly voted Republican in 2004, that may hold the deciding vote.

CNN reports in a poll released today that Barack Obama currently holds a narrow lead in all swing states, including Ohio where the president holds a three percent lead over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.