US Election 2020: What is the electoral college and what are the battleground states?

For becoming the President, candidates compete to win the Electoral College votes. Each state gets Electoral College votes based on its population. Voters decide who will go to the Electoral College and except two states, all others have a “winner takes all” rule which means that whoever wins the highest number of votes in the state gets all of the Electoral College votes. From a total of 538 Electoral College votes, the winner has to get 270 votes or more in order to become the President. This also means that it is not necessary to win the popular vote to become the President as US has an indirect election system. This was true for the 2016 presidential election in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but could not win over the electoral college.

The 2020 presidential election could be decided by just a handful of states. Like in 2016, only a small margin of votes in some states determined the outcome of the elections. These are known as the swing states. Here’s a look at seven swing states that could shape the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election:

1. Michigan: Traditionally, Michigan has been a Democrat stronghold because of the working class voters, a group that tends to vote for the Democrat Party but this changed in the 2016 Presidential election when Trump won Michigan by a small margin of 0.23%, with 47.50% of the total votes as opposed to Hilary Clinton who won 47.27%of the votes. A win in Michigan means 16 Electoral College votes for the candidates and in 2016 Donald Trump won Michigan with the narrowest margin of victory in Michigan’s presidential election history which was also the narrowest victory margin of any state in the 2016 election.

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2. Wisconsin: Demographically, the rural and blue-collar white voters of Wisconsin play a major role in deciding who wins the state. The state accounts for 10 Electoral College votes and Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by a narrow margin of 0.77%, with 47.22% of the total votes as opposed to 46.45% of Hillary Clinton. This made Trump the first Republican candidate to win the state since Ronald Reagan won in 1984.

3. Arizona: Arizona has traditionally been a Republican stronghold with 11 Electoral College votes. Donald Trump won Arizona in 2016 with a margin of 3.5 percent but this once Republican stronghold is now being considered a key swing state in this election as the absence of Republican stalwarts like Sen. John McCain has affected the dynamics of the state. The state also has an increasing Hispanic population, a group that leans towards the Democrat Party.

4. Georgia: Georgia contributes 16 Electoral College votes and has not picked a Democrat to be a President since 1992. In 2016,Trump won Georgia by 5.1% as Hillary Clinton received 45.35% of the votes. With its rapidly growing diverse population and Democrats like Stacey Abrams gaining nationwide popularity, Georgia is being regarded as a swing state for 2020.

5. North Carolina: In 2016, Trump gained North Carolina’s 15 Electoral College votes with a 3.66% margin and 49.83 % of the total vote whereas Hillary Clinton got 46.17% of the votes. With a mix of rural, city and suburban voters, the importance of the state is reflected through Donald Trump’s frequent visits to the state.

6. Florida: With 29 Electoral College votes, Florida is the largest swing state in America and has always been so. The margin of victory in the state has been very low and Trump won in this state in 2016 with 49% of the total votes as opposed to Clinton’s 47.8%; only by 1.2 percentage points.

7. Pennsylvania: In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes which is less than 1 percentage point, the narrowest margin in a presidential election for the state in 176 years. With 20 electoral votes, the state is called the ‘Blue Wall state’ but Trump’s victory in 2016 has made Pennsylvania a battleground state for 2020.

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