Predictions for Eight Key Swing States in the 2020 Presidential Election

By Jennifer Hassan in Politics
| October 28, 2020 9:31 am PDT
Swing State Map 2020 Presidential Election

Never have US swing states held more power.

The 2020 US presidential election is currently deemed by several pundits to potentially be hanging on a single electoral vote.

In this post I make my swing state predictions for eight states that will likely be key to who becomes the President of the United States.

Before I do that, let’s take a quick look at what we mean by swing state.

What is a Swing State?

SeeSaws in a Park

Also called a “battleground state,” a swing state is one that is not traditionally staunchly aligned with one party or another. A swing state could vote Democrat in one election, and then vote for a Republican candidate in another.

Because most states are firmly aligned with one party (i.e. Texas has always voted for the conservative candidate, whereas Oregon can be counted on to vote for the progressive candidate) there are only a handful of swing states.

To illustrate just how “flip-floppy” a swing state can be, some US states voted for Barack Obama, and then turned around and helped elect Donald Trump.

Trump’s policies could not be more diametrically opposed to those of former President Obama’s.

No wonder these swing states make candidates very nervous and keep the “experts” just a few degrees shy of making completely confident forecasts.

Whether we’d trust those forecasts, anyway, is another matter.

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In the current 2020 US presidential election, there are eight swing states that are holding the immense power to elect the next POTUS.

Below, I have listed these battleground states, and offered predictions about how they will vote in the coming election.

If you’re interested in following my predictions, or are confident in your own view, you can wager on the result of swing states at all the top apps offering presidential election betting.

Florida – Trump/Republican

With such a heavily multicultural populace, and an annual migration of retirees from every state in the Union, it remains a strong surprise to many that Florida continues to cling to conservativism with a death grip.

Known as “God’s Waiting Room,” this state is currently considered a swing state for the 2020 election, and the data provided by The Guardian shows that Biden clings to a tiny 1.7% margin.

Although Biden holds a tiny lead, I predict that Trump will take the state because of how many jobs he provides in the area via golf courses and other entertainment venues.

Furthermore, although many Floridians were very pro-Clinton in the last presidential election–to the point that experts were predicting a Democrat Party win in the state–last-minute voting numbers swung Florida into Republican territory.

Florida is a melting pot of US citizens coming from the north and west to live in the excellent weather, as well as foreign nationals from the nearby Caribbean nations who seek jobs, political asylum, and better education for their children.

This forced melding is seen by some to strain local resources and dilute the traditional American way of life. (Rumor has it that Denny’s restaurants in southern Florida offer a Cuban sandwich on the menu.)

I have a feeling that despite Biden’s lead, Trump will conquer this swing state at the last minute.

Ohio – Trump/Republican

No one is quite sure how Ohio garnered so much power to determine the leader of the free world, but it cannot be denied that this state is more closely watched in the run-up to the election than any other, barring New Hampshire.

Ohio is what is called a “bellwether” state, which means for whatever reason, the state typifies trends. If you want to know what is happening with the election as a whole, then keeping an eye on this historically predictive state is an easy way to do so.

What is interesting is that there are 50 states, and there have been 45 presidents. Of these 45 presidents, seven have hailed from Ohio. Only one state (Virginia) has produced more presidents. This means that 15% of US presidents have been Ohioans, indicating a strong attention to and passion for politics within the state.

Trump is currently leading by nearly two percentage points, and I suspect this will hold and the state will vote Republican.

Arizona – Biden/Democrat

Arizona is a study in opposites. The state has a huge Native American population, a vibrant Hispanic community, and large immigrant populations from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and elsewhere.

However, Arizona also kept Japanese-Americans in a concentration camp, was home to a P.O.W. internment center, and is famous for admittedly violent and racist members of state law enforcement.

When mineworkers went on strike in the town of Bisbee, 1,300 of them were kidnapped by local law enforcement, and sent on a train without water to a neighboring state and told not to return. Ah, Arizona!

The state’s nickname is the Grand Canyon State, and most people reasonably assume that it refers to the Grand Canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world.

However, some Arizona residents believe the state’s nickname refers to the unbridgeable divide in the state between European immigrants and the people who were already there.

Thus, despite the state’s location next to Mexico and its culturally varied population, Republican candidates can often count on Arizona to back them.

Having said all that, Biden is currently leading in opinion polls by nearly 4%. This is notable given Arizona’s history as a “deep red” voting state.

Arizona has 11 electoral votes. Not as impressive as the 29 allotted to Florida, but still significant enough to impact the election.

Because it is so surprising that Biden has a not-insignificant 3.7% lead, implying a radical mindset shift in the state, I predict that Arizona will make history and vote for Biden, the Democratic Party candidate!

Just one more reason that 2020 is a year to remember.

Michigan – Biden/Democrat

Outside of Detroit, this state is known for its mild-mannered citizenry and friendly and picturesque small towns. However, politics can vary from locale to locale within the state pretty significantly.

First of all, Michigan is divided into two parts physically: the Upper Peninsula, and the Lower Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula is almost entirely red, following the Republican Party platform without question or deviation (the level of college education in this part of the state is less than one-quarter of adults).

The Lower Peninsula is half red, and the rest leans in the blue direction.

Despite the fact that two-thirds of the state is firmly red territory, in 2020 it is the Democratic Party which holds a very healthy lead. Biden has a 7% edge over Trump.

I expect Michigan to vote blue this election year, with electors tossing in their votes for Biden. By election day, Biden may have lost some support, but with this kind of lead, he won’t lose enough to turn the state red.

Pennsylvania – Biden/Democrat

One of the nation’s 13 original British colonies, Pennsylvania holds 20 of the country’s 538 electoral votes.

That may seem like a small fraction of the total, but more than one political analyst has stated that this election may be decided by a single electoral vote.

In this mid-Atlantic state, Biden is leading by more than 5%. Usually considered to be a “moderate Republican state,” Pennsylvania Republicans are less conservative than their brethren.

Although Biden currently has a moderate lead over fellow contender and current incumbent Trump, his lead is lower than it was just weeks ago. In early October, Biden was leading in Pennsylvania by 12 points.

Of course, these early opinion polls can be misleading. Not everyone is polled, and the reality of elections has often overturned pre-polls, no matter how hard the pollsters work to make the system more reliable.

I believe that Biden will squeak away with the victory in this state, if only by a hair’s breadth.

If Biden’s lead has diminished by 7% in 20 days, then a mathematician would point out that he has the potential to lose votes by 1/3 of a percentage point a day. This means that in the eight days we have left until election day, he can lose nearly 3% more of his support.

Of course, life does not happen linearly. As noted above, these polls are not perfect and sometimes they are dead wrong. Nonetheless, I stand by my prediction that he will squeak by.

North Carolina – Biden/Democrat

A Street in Rural North Carolina

North Carolina is an interesting place. A gorgeous, lush state with beaches, mountains, and the one of world’s best basketball programs at UNC, there is no one personality that typifies the average North Carolinian. 

In North Carolina’s rural, western areas, education can be very low. It is a fact of socio-political interest in the United States that poorly educated people tend to vote for Republican candidates.

According to The Atlantic, there has been a great deal of “party realignment” since Trump was voted into office. Trump, the grandson of immigrants, and a man who has been married to two immigrant women, is staunchly anti-immigrant.

This platform may sit well with less-educated factory, mill and mine workers who worry about job security. They know that the more people there are available to work in these industries, the tougher the competition to get and keep a job.

Company owners can then offer lower pay and fewer benefits to lure employees into what is often grueling and dangerous situations.

As is true for many states, North Carolina has a high-tech and highly educated area called the Research Triangle. The residents of this area are more likely to vote Democrat because the Democratic Party’s rallying cry of civil rights feels more valuable to these voters.

Biden currently holds a 2.7% lead. Four years ago, Trump took a nearly 4% triumph in the state.

I suspect the current modest lead that Biden has will hold true until election day.

Although Trump took a win in North Carolina four years ago, he has antagonized enough voters to push 6.7% of them in the other direction (4% 2016 win + Biden’s current 2.7% lead).

Iowa – Trump/Republican

Like Ohio, Iowa is also considered a bellwether state. The way that Iowa votes nearly always mimics the ultimate national outcome.

Only in three instances in the past six decades has the Iowa vote not been an indicator of how the country is going to vote. (It’s just often enough that you can’t quite count on the Iowa vote as a perfect predictor.)

Iowa currently has Trump leading by a mere 1/10 of a percentage point. This 0.1% lead is a mood booster for Republicans, but is very likely leaving Trump’s election staff very nervous.

If Iowa is a bellwether state, and Iowa is essential 50/50 right now, then it implies that nation itself is also very finely balanced at the moment, and that the election can truly swing either way.

This one is so tough to call because of how small Trump’s lead is.

Because the state’s citizens came out strongly for Trump in 2016, I am going to say that Trump will maintain his lead and take victory in the state. 

Wisconsin – Biden/Democrat

Biden is striding strong in this bastion state of the Midwest. The Independent calculates that Biden has a nearly 7% lead, while a poll within the state puts Biden’s lead closer to 9%.

According to a poll conducted by the University of Wisconsin, there are a great many Trump supporters who have not yet cast their ballots.

This, naturally, will swing the numbers back to the red side of the aisle. But the University believes these “wait for the day” voters will not be enough to turn the tide in the state from blue to red.

Why would a solidly agrarian, conservative state such as Wisconsin be leaning in the blue/Biden direction? Well, the UW poll found that only 92% of state Republicans (among their sample of people interviewed) support Trump.

This means that even if many of the state’s citizens considered themselves firmly Republican, nearly one in ten of those Republicans would be hesitant to vote for Trump.

This uncertainty has caused President Trump to make repeated visits to the state, hoping to sway voters into giving him that critical edge that could carry him into another term as the United States’ moral and intellectual compass.

I suspect this state will continue with the Biden lead and give this Democratic Party candidate the win. Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes are nowhere near Pennsylvania’s 20, or Florida’s 29, but right now anything helps (and this applies to either party).

A Last Word on the 2020 Precedential Election

No, that was not a typo! There are a great many precedents being set in this run-up to the election, regardless of the ultimate victor.

Arizona is leaning left, people who have never voted are determined to get the polls, and our nation’s history of absorbing immigrants to become stronger may be swept away in favor of jingoism and nebulous concepts of what creates national security.

In short, it’s going to be one heck of a Tuesday, come November 3rd.

If you’re interested in betting on the election, and many people are, then you should also check out the following.

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