These are two things: the electoral college and the US electoral demographics.
Put simply, the electoral college is the system that awards a candidate’s votes based on who wins which state. This means that – in most states – whoever wins the most votes in that state receives all the votes of the electoral college from the state.
Take California. It has 55 “voters” on its electoral college. Even if Joe Biden won that state by a single vote, he would get all 55 electoral college votes.
There are 538 votes for the electoral college. To win the election you have to reach the magic number 270 in the electoral college.
Let’s go back to California. Joe Biden will win those 55 electoral college votes. It is almost inconceivable that he will not win this state, which has been a safe democratic state since 1992. Hillary Clinton received almost twice as many votes as Trump in 2016 in California.
There are states like this one in the US that are almost certain to choose Biden or Trump based on historical precedents and opinion polls. But there are also states that frequently switch from Republicans to Democrats and vice versa between elections.
And so – as in the previous elections – will be the decisive swing states in which the election will be decided.
Here are a few of the main ones, what the race looks like there and what to look out for on election night.
Florida hat 29 Votes of the electoral college. In the past, like the close race between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000, it was the state that decided the election.
Winning Florida can be absolutely crucial. In two of the last three elections the Democrats lost, that state’s win would have turned the tide.
Trump won Florida in 2016 and has made frequent visits to the state on the campaign trail. He also calls it his “home state”, as he frequently visits a Mar-a-Lago estate.
People leave after casting their vote in Miami
Quelle: Miami Herald / ABACA / PA Images
The Republicans are vigorously defending themselves here and the Democrats are accusing them of suppressing the vote, especially in color communities.
The state’s huge Latino population will be key, and polls show they are less in line with the Democratic ticket than in 2016.
At the same time, polls also show that seniors are swinging away from Trump because of his handling of the pandemic.
Most experts say Florida is a Trump firewall. If it’s hurt, Trump will likely lose the White House.
Trump at a rally in Pensacola, Florida last week
Source: Dan Anderson / PA Images
This state is usually quite quick in submitting its results, so this will be seen early on election night, with an early vote so far signaling an advantage for Biden.
In the polls, Biden is currently (only) in this state with 49.0%, ahead of Trump (47.0% *). Everything is still clear here.
Pennsylvania hat 20 Votes of the electoral college.
As in Florida, Trump made numerous appearances in Pennsylvania as he sought renewed assistance in a crucial state he won in 2016.
There’s a huge rural-urban gap here on voting, with those in the cities far more likely to vote for Biden than Trump.
Biden expects these voters to cross the finish line here in the big cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
However, Trump’s campaign has mobilized and is spreading across the state, including the city suburbs where they advertise door-to-door. He hopes the polls don’t include the so-called “hidden voters” who refuse to admit to supporting him.
Large numbers of people voted early in Pennsylvania, raising fears that there could be delays in the state ballot counting on election night.
Source: Patrick Semansky / PA Images
A lawsuit over the deadline for ballot delivery has clouded things over in Keystone State, and the postal vote favored by Biden supporters could mean early state results don’t give us the full picture.
Still, anyone who attains this key state is likely to win the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In recent polls, Biden tops the list at 50.3%, compared with 45.0% for Trump.
Michigan hat 16 Votes of the electoral college.
It narrowly tipped Trump in 2016 and is fiercely contested this year.
Trump has visited the Great Lakes state to argue it will usher in an American comeback, but voters are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on the economy and the president’s response to the pandemic.
Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer has clashed with the president repeatedly and the state lockdowns have angered Conservatives.
Protesters at gunpoint held demonstrations outside the state capital this summer and members of a right-wing group were recently arrested for plotting to kidnap the governor.
Gretchen Whitmer was recently the victim of a kidnapping conspiracy
Source: SIPA USA / PA Images
Trump has continued to fuel opposition to the Michigan Democrats and despite his successful appeals to workers in a state where production fell in 2016, he faces an uphill battle this time around.
This is one that you might consider a must-see for Biden, and one of what is known as the Blue Wall, which also includes Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that he needs to win back.
The latest polls give Biden a nearly eight point lead in Michigan, from 50.7% to 42.6% on Trump.
Wisconsin hat 10 Votes of the electoral college.
Hillary Clinton never fought in Wisconsin in 2016 at her expense. And the voters punished them for it. The previously secure democratic state then turned to Trump, albeit with a very small margin.
That year, the Democrats had their national gathering – despite going online due to the pandemic – in Wisconsin.
The state of Kenosha has also been a lightning rod for rioting recently after police shot black Jacob Blake in August.
Here too, according to opinion polls, Biden currently has a lead of around 51.7% compared to 43.2% for Trump.
Iowa just did six The electoral college votes and is another swing state too close to call on.
Trump won easily here four years ago, but this time it looks much more accurate.
He hosted a campaign rally in Iowa earlier this month, a sign that he is playing defense in a state he expected to win.
In the vote, this defensive strategy could still be sufficient as Trump still has the chance to narrowly defeat Biden here.
The current opinion polls have Trump at 46.1% to Biden’s 47.6%.
Ohio hat 18 Votes of the electoral college.
Republicans and Democrats are often rotated when choosing a president (the eventual winner is often chosen) and this year is expected to be tight.
No one has won Ohio but has lost the general election since Richard Nixon in 1960. If you win Ohio in the past 60 years, you win the White House. A win for Biden here would be a decisive win in the race.
Trump is currently almost two points ahead of Biden with 48.1% to 46.3%.
North Carolina hat 15 Votes of the electoral college.
This traditionally conservative state went three points to Trump four years ago, but both parties acknowledge that he is now too close to call on him.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is a popular Democrat who has been lauded for his balanced response to the pandemic.
President Donald Trump fights at Lancaster Airport in Pennyslvania
Source: SIPA USA / PA Images
Republicans set up their national convention here, even though it was mostly online.
This condition is considered an absolute must for Trump to win the election, but opinion polls suggest that he may be in trouble here.
Biden is currently at 49.1% versus 46.9% for Trump.
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Arizona hat 11 Votes of the electoral college.
It’s been a Republican stronghold for decades, but its electorate is changing with a growing Latino community and an influx of more liberal Californians.
Conservative voters appreciate Trump’s efforts to curb immigration and build a wall on the border with Mexico.
But Trump has hurt his prospects by repeatedly denigrating the late Senator John McCain, who represented Arizona and still plays a big role in its politics. McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, supported Biden.
The polls have a nearly four-point lead for Biden at this point, and losing that condition would seriously hurt Trump’s hopes this year.
Biden is 48.9% and Trump is 45.4%.
Georgia has 16 The electoral college elects and is another state with a rural / urban divide when it comes to voting.
A Democrat hasn’t won a Georgia presidential race since Bill Clinton in 1992, but it has been a Democratic trend in recent years.
Biden supporters in Florida
Source: SIPA USA / PA Images
Trump has held rallies here in recent weeks, an indication that he may be on shaky ground there. It’s one that he really can’t afford to lose.
In the last polls, too, Biden is at the top with only 48.2% to 46.8%. It will all be up and running when the votes are counted.
What else to look for
Despite democratic hopes, opinion polls say Biden will not win Texas – who has elected Republicans in every election since 1980.
It would have to be a serious defeat for Trump nationally for Texas to topple, and with 38 electoral college votes, he would almost guarantee he won’t be able to keep the White House.
An early result of Florida should provide an indication of the direction in which the election has gone. If Biden wins, it could mean he is on his way to a comfortable win. If Trump wins Florida it could mean we have a very close race that could potentially be contested.
Following a recent Supreme Court decision that provides longer deadlines for postal votes Pennsylvania and North CarolinaThis could mean we don’t have final results from some of the major battlefields a few days after the election.
Both candidates will continue to travel through these crucial states in the coming days, hoping to get some last minute votes.
* *All survey data was obtained from FiveThirtyEight.com
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