The “pivotal states” are to the presidential election in the United States what the trade winds were to the sailors of Antiquity, summarizes the American news channel CNN: indispensable as much as unforeseeable. Because it is good in these – called swing states in the original version – what will be the ballot of November 3? Across the Atlantic, the president is elected by indirect universal suffrage, that is to say he is appointed by an electoral college. This is the one that citizens elect when they go to the polls.
The electoral college is made up of 538 electorate voters, and to be elected president a candidate must obtain the votes of at least 270 of them. Each state is assigned a number of electors equal to the number of its representatives in Congress: either two senators, regardless of its demographic weight, to which are added the elected members of the House of Representatives, whose number is determined according to his population.
Given the evolution of the political map in the United States, a majority of States no longer present much stake – or even none – for candidates who benefit from a sufficient electoral base to ensure the victory: this is what we call the “Safe States” (safe states). The contenders for the White House therefore focus on the pivotal states, and concentrate their campaign efforts there.
Why are pivot states so important?
The concept of pivot state refers to any state that could reasonably be won by either the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate. Forty-eight of the country’s fifty states apply the so-called “Winner take all”. That is to say that the candidate who comes out on top wins all of the major voters at stake, regardless of the margins obtained at the ballot box. This is the reason why candidate campaign teams are focusing on states that could tip in their favor. The other two states, Nebraska and Maine, operate on a proportional system.
Are the pivot states the same from one election to another?
In 2016, the election analysis site FiveThirtyEight identified Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin as pivotal states “Perennial” : understand theaters of close struggles during the last presidential campaigns.
The results of the midterm elections in 2018 highlighted several developments: Colorado and Ohio becoming less contested; while Georgia and Arizona began to acquire pivotal statehood.
In 2020, the list of FiveThirtyEight was updated, the electoral map across the Atlantic having “Underwent a series of changes”. Some states, such as Iowa, Michigan or Maine, now oscillate strongly towards the Republican camp, while others, historically “Red” seem to lean towards the Democrats, like Arizona, Georgia or Texas.
Which states to follow during this 2020 election?
In each of these pivotal states, Donald Trump’s track record, along with that of his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is clear: the president must maximize his performance with rural voters and halt his erosion in the suburbs. residential. Another objective: to succeed in mobilizing the voters of the white working class who had not voted in 2016.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, needs a strong turnout in big cities, especially among black voters, who traditionally vote Democratic. He must increase his voting intentions with Latinos and recover the places that escaped the democratic purse after having voted twice for President Barack Obama.
The various media across the Atlantic have established their lists of pivot states. On the basis of their census, we selected eleven – New Hampshire, whose outcome is uncertain, does not appear in this list, for example: with four large voters, its weight in the electoral college is relatively low ; above all, Donald Trump has decided to no longer campaign there as the November 3 election approaches.
For the sake of clarity of reading, the various pivot states that we have identified are classified according to their weight in the electoral college. However, this does not predict the more or less disputed nature of the ballot in each of them.
Our selection of articles on the presidential election in the United States
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