Political Profiles of the States, Swing States and Tracking Polls

Ballotpedia has published political profiles of each state, courtesy of the Almanac of American Politics 2016. Reading these profiles are essential to fully understanding American politics.

The largest states lean heavily toward one candidate: New York, Illinois (Chicago), the Northeast and the West coast states (California, Washington, Oregon) are generally considered Democratic or Clinton territory; Texas and the Western states as well as Southern states are generally considered Republican or Trump territory.

FiveThirtyEight.com tracks state polls. Here are the states Trump MUST WIN:

  • Arizona: Traditionally a Republican state, Hillary has been gaining. But before the second debate, Trump had a slight lead. Watch the tracking polls.
  • Florida: The ultimate swing state. Florida was so close in 2000 that it caused a constitutional crisis. The US Supreme Court had to decide who won that election — Clinton Vice President Al Gore, who won the popular vote, or Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who won more states and an electoral college majority. In 2016, Florida is an essential state for Donald Trump. If he loses it, he probably loses the White House. Florida tracking polls.
  • Nevada: This state has voted for the winner every year since 1980. Trump has been unusually popular, due to his casino investments and the fact that Nevadans tend to be “risk-takers” who would like to see a return to Las Vegas’s salad days and think Trump might be able to pull it off. But Trump’s feud with a Latina beauty queen, in which he fat-shamed her and called her “Miss Housekeeping,” has been a gift to Democrats. Subsequent release of a video documenting Trump’s disrespect of women suggests Hillary is surging ahead in Nevada, the ultimate swing state. Watch the tracking polls.
  • New Hampshire: Hillary has been consistently ahead for most of the fall, but it appears there has been a surge for Trump in the final days. Watch the tracking polls.
  • North Carolina: This state was reliably Republican for 28 years, from 1980 (Reagan’s election) until 2008. Obama won it narrowly in 2008, Republicans took the legislature in 2010, Romney won the state narrowly and “moderate” Republican Pat McCrory won the governorship and Democrats lost a Senate seat in 2012. Now the state is up for grabs in the presidential contest, the governor’s race, and for a US Senate seat. Trump must win it to become president. Clinton and Trump were basically tied before the second debate, as are Senate candidates and gubernatorial candidates. Election will be determined by turn-out. Watch the tracking polls.
  • Ohio: No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. But in some ways, it is less representative of the nation as a whole than it used to be, because it is older, whiter and less educated, with fewer college-educated voters and is still reeling from the loss of the manufacturing base. Trump was slightly ahead after the first debate. Ohio, Long a Bellwether, Has Lost Its Spotlight in Campaign (NYT). Yet, after the release of a video documenting Trump’s disrespect for women, Hillary pulled slightly ahead. Watch the tracking polls.
  • Pennsylvania: This state has a lot of working class white voters that have been part of Trump’s base. The cities — Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — are likely to go Democratic, for Hillary. The main question is turnout. Clinton has had a solid lead in most polls since September. Watch the tracking polls.
  • Iowa: This state was reliably Democratic in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama years. Hurt by the loss of manufacturing jobs, Iowa has been fertile territory for Donald Trump. Before the second debate, he was up by nearly four percent, but then plunged. Can he maintain his lead? Watch the tracking polls.
The 15 states that will decide the election: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
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