Swing States

Clinton, Trump pick up big wins

In my last article, I discussed how the Electoral College works. So now y’all know that every state has been given a certain number of delegates who will be the actual members who’ll cast the vote to choose the next President. I also breached the topic of how some states are firmly Republican (Red) or firmly Democratic (Blue). These states, like Wyoming and Alabama for Republicans and California and Maryland for Democrats , generally vote heavily in favor of one party. Thus, the real competition is in those states where there are a large number of independent voters: the swing states.

It’s been said that there are only a few states which determine the election. This is due to the way the electoral college works. The states with a high amount of independent (unregistered) voters determine the election. The states of Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania among others are swing states because of an important reason: the number of registered Republican and Democratic voters is almost the same. As a result, the real outcome of the state is determined by the independents.

Let’s have a look at all the competitive states in 2016. According to the political analysis website 270towin, the states of Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Arizona and Nevada are competitive. Also due to strong third party presence, the states of Utah and New Mexico might turn more competitive. Let’s analyze each and every state.

Ohio: The traditional swing state. Ohio has always gone with the eventual winner since 1960, when it opted for Richard Nixon over the eventual winner John F. Kennedy. Ohio has a large educated working class white population, which explains its tendency to remain independent in partisan matters. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary here and thus has managed a solid support from the Democrats here. The Republicans, however, are fractured. John Kasich, Ohio’s sitting governor, won the primary and has since distanced himself from Trump. Kasich is one of my favorite politicians in the United States and I was hoping that he’ll somehow manage to get the candidacy (high hopes). He’s a moderate leaning Republican who has shown that he can work with members on both the side of the aisle, something America needs after the disastrous Obamacare act. In fact, Trump had vetted him as a potential running mate.

Governor John Kasich has refused to endorse Trump

Kasich himself wrote-in John McCain in Ohio, drawing ire of the Trump supporters while getting applause from the Democrats and moderates. Kasich is immensely popular in Ohio (though his NeverTrump stance has hurt that a bit) and was reelected with a big margin in 2014. His endorsement would have given a lot more support to Trump than he already has. Trump is leading by 3 percentage points currently. Compare that to Senator Rob Portman, a candidate endorsed by Kasich, who’s leading his opponent by over 10 percentage points in the Buckeye State.

Prediction: Trump will take Ohio, by a close margin.

Florida: Florida’s importance cannot be understated. With 29 electoral votes, it’s the third largest state along with New York in the election process. In the last 10 elections, it has always sided with the eventual winner apart from 1992, when it went for George Bush, Sr. over Bill Clinton. This was also the state of contention in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The election here was too close to call and hence the American people were kept waiting to find out who their next leader will be for over a month due to the recount. This was because Bush had received 246 electoral votes to Gore’s 255, with no one have the 270 votes required to win. In the end, Bush defeated Gore by a mere 537 votes (more than 6 million votes were cast). The result was worsened for the Democrats when they found out that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, running on similar issues as Gore, siphoned out more than 97,000 votes.

Ralph Nader was one of the major reasons Gore lost Florida and the Presidency

This year, the race is a virtual tie, with the majority of pollsters believing in a very close Clinton victory. The high Latino population will definitely go in her favor.

Prediction: A very close victory for Clinton.

Michigan: A highly industrial state, Michigan has been plagued with environmental issues. The Flint water crisis has inflamed the people and the lack of action by the Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has undermined the GOP’s chances in a state which has voted Democrat consistently since 1988, when they opted for George Bush Sr., over Michael Dukakis. This year however, due to the loss of jobs in the automobile industries, Trump’s promises of protectionism and getting the jobs back seem appealing to the working class populace of Michigan. Although most polls show Clinton ahead, the race is too close for her comfort.

Embattled Governor Rick Snyder’s unpopularity might give Clinton an edge in Michigan

Prediction: A close victory for Clinton.

New Hampshire: A small state with only 4 votes, New Hampshire has always sided with the eventual winner since 1976, when it went with Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter. Bernie Sanders had defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, while Trump had won this state in the Republican one. Clinton earlier had a huge lead, but she squandered it following the email scandal. Now pollsters are expecting a Trump victory, though Clinton is close. The Granite State also has one of the closest Senate races this year, with the incumbent GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte facing popular former Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Prediction: Clinton just edges Trump.

North Carolina: A state with 15 electoral votes, North Carolina was a Republican bastion until 2008, when Barack Obama upstaged John McCain. With a sizeable African-American population in the state, the Clinton camp is bullish about her chances here and she has deployed President Obama, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and even Pharrell Williams in this state as her surrogates. The state is currently tied.

Prediction: Close Trump victory.

Georgia: Georgia has voted for the GOP in the last five elections, and will probably do the same in 2016. The race was close earlier, especially during the lewd remarks scandal of Trump. Following the email controversy, Clinton has plummeted.

Prediction: Easy 16 electoral votes for Trump.

Iowa: Iowa has voted Democrat since 1984, with the only exception being 2004, when Iowans voted for George Bush, Jr. over John Kerry. Obama had won the state by a big margin both the times. Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton had one the respective primaries. All this points to an easy Clinton victory, doesn’t it? Wrong. Clinton is down by 7 points in Iowa. This is mainly because of the corn industry backing Trump in large numbers. Corn is an important industry and Trump’s pro-business and pro-American attitude is helping him a lot in a state which should have been a safe Democrat win.

Prediction: Trump wins “bigly”.

Arizona: Arizona has voted Republican since 1952, with the only exception being 1996, when the state opted for Bill Clinton over Bob Dole. The state of former candidate and senator Barry Goldwater, his small government rhetoric has had a big impact on how the state votes. This year, although being a wrangle at times, the state is again likely to vote Republican

Prediction: Trump win.

Nevada: A state with quite an association with Trump, Nevada is a traditional swing state. With a high Latino population and a sitting Republican Latino governor, Trump is finding it hard to win this state. The Governor, Brian Sandoval, like John Kasich is a moderate and has one of the highest approval ratings in the country. The Republican senatorial candidate, Joe Heck, is another moderate. Both of them have refused to endorse Trump. Retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has worked long and hard in this state to ensure a Clinton victory. Plus Trump’s unsavory relationships with Latinos and his own employees in Las Vegas have jeopardized his chances completely in the state.

Prediction: Easy 6 electoral votes for Clinton.

Utah: Utah will be interesting. Independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative, is on ballot in this state. McMullin, a Mormon, is getting steady support and currently is beating Hillary Clinton in Utah. Utah was the reddest state in 2012, thanks to Mitt Romney’s roots to the state. The fact that Republicans might just lose a solid Red state to a complete outsider is truly puzzling. McMullin has repudiated Trump in many of his rallies and his conservative social approach and a hawkish foreign policy approach is attracting a lot of conservatives who had earlier supported Ted Cruz and neoconservatives who were begrudgingly supporting Clinton on his side. Though I still expect the GOP to carry this state, it’ll definitely be interesting to see a McMullin win.

Independent Mormon candidate Evan McMullin is giving Trump a run for his money

Prediction: Close victory for Trump. McMullin to beat Clinton.

New Mexico: New Mexico has gone with the eventual winner since 1984, with the exception being 2000, when the New Mexicans opting for Gore over Bush Jr. Clinton has a solid lead here, but the challenge doesn’t come from Trump, but from the Libertarian Gary Johnson. Johnson was a two term Governor of New Mexico and was very well loved in the state. The eccentric sexagenarian is an avid mountaineer and has climbed Everest twice. He’s completely pro-weed and pro-guns and is at odds with both the parties in many issues. A former Republican,  Johnson was one of the most veto-friendly Governors in the history of the country. He also did the commendable task of reducing the state’s debt and reduced taxes and public spending by a great amount. Though his gaffe of Aleppo gave him a lot of unwanted publicity, he’s still quite popular among the New Mexican populace. Again, it’s quite a long shot for him to win, but it’s still possible.

Former Governor and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is polling very well in New Mexico and is expected to become the most successful Libertarian candidate

Prediction: Clinton victory, Johnson just manages to beat Trump (High hopes, sigh).

So there it is, a complete guide for the swing states. All that’s remaining is grabbing popcorn and watching if the US votes for its first woman president or a complete outsider. It was not pleasant, in fact it was as if both the parties would have wanted someone better to lead them, but here we are now.



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