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# Swing states, 2012 U.S. Presidential Election

Posted Sep17-12 at 02:13 PM by Redbelly98
Updated Sep22-12 at 03:42 PM by Redbelly98 (Added to "Detailed Explanation"; added direct link to Real Clear Politics)

My main purpose here is to help keep an appropriate and narrow focus on what will determine the winner in the upcoming 2012 election. That is, NOT the nationwide popular vote that polls often report in the months leading up to the election -- rather, the individual states and their electoral votes.

With that in mind, I look for the states that (1) are pretty well split in terms of which candidate they will vote for, and (2) have a lot of Electoral Votes. As I did 4 years ago, I'll follow a handful of news and other online sources to identify these key states that will likely determine the election.

Based on criteria that are detailed below, we can mostly focus our attention on four states: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. A more comprehensive ranking of the 2012 Battleground States, based on a 0-to-65 point scale, looks as follows:

17 Sep. 2012
Code:
17 Sep. 2012
State           EV  SP
1  Florida         29  65
2  Ohio            18  65
3  Virginia        13  65
4  Wisconson       10  65
6  Iowa             6  55
7  New Hampshire    4  55
9  North Carolina  15  45
10  Pennsylvania    20  40
11  Michigan        16  40
Brief explanation:
EV = Electoral Votes for each state.
BP = Swing Points, a 0-to-65 point scale.

After Colorado, which is ranked #5 currently, there are the low-EV (and therefore lower impact) states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Following those, we find 3 high-EV states of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Then there is quite a drop in SP score, from 40 down to 15, in 4 states that I did not bother to show in the above list: Arizona, Minnesota, Missouri, and New Mexico. Each of these 4 are considered to be pretty solidly for one candidate or the other by 4 of the sources used for this ranking, and leaning one way or the other by 3 of the sources. None of the sources consider these states to be truly split at this time.

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More detailed explanation of the Swing Point system:

For the most part, each state falls into one of three categories:
1. Solidly in favor of one of the candidates
2. Leaning toward or slightly favoring a candidate
3. A true swing state, where polls indicate the vote is too close to call

In the Swing Point system used here:
A state gets 10 points for each source (see list below) that classifies it as a true swing (or "battleground") state.
5 points are awarded to a state for each source mentioning it as "Leaning Democrat" or "Leaning Republican".
0 points are awarded for states listed as "Solid Republican" or "Solid Democrat"

The sources are:
CNN (click "battleground states" at link)
Fox News / Real Clear Politics
N.Y. Times
Washington Post
L.A. Times
Politico.com
270towin.com

Notes:
Politico lists leaning states (5 points) and solid states (0 points), but no true swing states. Therefore the maximum possible score, using the 7 sources listed above, is 65 points rather than 70.
CNN lists true swing states (10 points) and solid states (0 points), but no leaning states.
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1. ### Electoral Vote Totals, 17 Sep. 2012

As a follow up on what I have posted above, it is reasonable to ask how many of those swing votes each candidate needs in order to get to 270 electoral votes, the minimum required to win the election.

From the sources I listed, it is pretty well accepted that the top 7 states in the list are undecided, while all remaining states are either leaning toward one of the candidates or are pretty solidly in favor of one of the candidates. Oddly, Fox News has Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee leaning Republican, but I think it is safe to put them in the solidly Republican group.

With that in mind, we have the following scenario:
89 Electoral Votes (EV) are up for grabs (Top 7 states in list above)
243 EV favor the Democrats (179 solid, 64 leaning)
206 EV favor the Republicans (159 solid, 47 leaning)

Based on those numbers:
The Democrats need 27 of the 89 available EV to win.
The Republicans need 64 of the 89 available EV to win.

In short, the Republicans can only lose 25 EV among the top 7 undecided states, and therefore must win Florida -- unless they win over some states in the leaning-Democrat category. Their best bets there lie in Pennsylvania (20 EV) and Michigan (16 EV).

The Democrats need just 27 more EV (Florida alone would accomplish this), assuming they do not lose any of the states currently leaning Democrat. Their best chance at winning a big leaning-Republican state would appear to be in North Carolina, with its 15 EV.

Obviously the mix of states that are up for grabs or simply leaning one way can change over the next 7 weeks. I will try to update things, as time permits me.
Posted Sep17-12 at 04:36 PM by Redbelly98
Updated Sep22-12 at 06:58 PM by Redbelly98 (Corrected some numbers)
2. ### Update 22 Sep. 2012

Here is the latest breakdown of states, ranked by Swing Points with Electoral Votes used as a tiebreaker. As usual, Florida and Ohio are 1-2 in this "Top 10-ish" list:

Code:
22 Sep. 2012

State           EV  SP
1  Florida         29  65
2  Ohio            18  65
3  Virginia        13  65
5  Iowa             6  65
6  Wisconson       10  60
8  New Hampshire    4  55
9  North Carolina  15  50
10  Pennsylvania    20  40
11  Michigan        16  35
Some changes since last time:
Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada have each gained 10 points as CNN now considers them to be true swing states.
Both Wisconsin and Michigan have dropped 5 points as Real Clear Politics now puts them both in the "Leaning Democrat" category.

If we (like last time) consider states with 55 points or more to be true swing states, and states with 50 or below as solid or leaning for one side or the other, then we currently have the following scenario:

95 Electoral Votes (EV) are up for grabs (Top 8 states in the above list)
237 EV are solid or leaning Democrat (includes Pennsylvania and Michigan in above list)
206 EV are solid or leaning Republican (includes North Carolina in above list)

Based on these numbers:
The Democrats need 33 of the 95 available EV to win.
The Republicans need 64 of the 95 available EV to win.

This is close to the state of things from last time, except that Nevada has gone from Leaning Democrat to being considered a true swing state in coming up with these numbers.
Posted Sep22-12 at 06:52 PM by Redbelly98
Updated Sep22-12 at 07:00 PM by Redbelly98