Despite that, Trump was able to break through some of the “blue wall” states—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—that had voted Democratic in each presidential election since 1992, helping him secure 306 electoral votes on election night to Clinton’s 236.
In 2020, Joe Biden won back those three states in addition to Arizona and Georgia who voted Democratic for the first time since the 1990s. Biden flipped the script on Trump, winning the electoral vote 306 to 236.
With under a year to go until November 5th, 2024—with echoes reverberating from within the Democratic tent about his fitness to stand for a second term—recent polls from six key battleground states have highlighted a big problem for Biden in his bid for reelection.
In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania polls show Biden trailing Trump by margins of 3% to 10%. In Wisconsin, Biden retains a narrow 2-point lead.
It has some Democratic strategists raising alarm.
In the US, presidential candidates win by securing a majority of the 538 votes available in the Electoral College, NOT by having the most votes nationwide.
They are in a state-by-state race to 270. And history shows us that next November’s presidential election may be decided by these six “swing states” and their 77 electoral votes.
In recent memory, most US states have been firmly “Red” or “Blue”.
For example, from 2000 to 2012, 40 states voted for the same party in each election. From 2000 to 2020 that number is lower, but still high at 35.
With most states reliably secure for one side or the other, the 77 electoral votes available in those six key battleground states will prove vital to forging a path to 270…the only number that really matters on election night.
Many argue that it is an antiquated system, rooted in racism, that has passed its “best before” date. But in US Democracy it continues to be how presidents come to power and provides important insight into the way the two main parties will organize their campaigns.
The Electoral College is a group of designated “electors” with the constitutional responsibility to select the US president and vice president.
Each of the 50 states is given the number of electors equal to its number of representatives and senators—two senators plus their delegation of representatives based on statewide population. Since 1961, the District of Columbia (D.C) has also had three electoral college votes.
In practice—notwithstanding rare exceptions—each state awards its electoral votes to the presidential candidate chosen by the state’s voters. Forty-eight states and D.C. use a winner-take-all system (all electoral votes in the state go to the state’s popular vote winner), while Maine and Nebraska have contingencies in place where their electoral votes may be split.
In practice, election night next November will turn on how six key battleground states are colored on the electoral map. They will prove pivotal to reaching 270 and the White House.
Then, it’s up to the Electoral College to “vote” in their respective states on December 16th, before a joint session of Congress convenes on January 6th, 2025, to count the electoral votes and declare the outcome of the election.