Everything You Need To Know About Swing States

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
With less than 24 hours until the polls open, we’ve updated this post with the most recent statistics. Ahead, see how things have changed — or not — in the states to watch in the 2016 presidential race.

This story was originally published on November 1, 2016.
If you’ve been following the presidential election, you’ve probably been hearing plenty about the swing states.

Those states considered up for grabs for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump hold between them a significant chunk of Electoral College votes — more than enough to make-or-break a campaign.

That's why, with just over a week to go, Trump and Clinton are duking it out to see who can convince voters in states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina to help "swing" the polls in their favor.

Some of the states in play this year are ones that are traditionally considered battlegrounds for presidential candidates. One example is Ohio, which tends to have close races and has swung back and forth between the parties in recent elections. Others, like Wisconsin, for instance, tend to favor one party in presidential elections (in this case, Democrats) but feature demographics that are typically considered favorable to the other candidate.
Advertisement
Polls show the rivals for the White House are each dominating in specific demographic areas — Clinton is showing major leads with Black and minority voters, while Trump is doing enormously well with white men without college degrees. Those big discrepancies mean that state-by-state demographic shifts could provide major advantages to either candidate, sometimes in areas that political parties in previous elections had written off as lost causes.

So, if you’re tired of hearing about the so-called Election 2016 battlegrounds without getting any of the necessary information, read on. We’ve gathered the states you should be watching in the lead-up to November 8, and what to consider when it comes to recent polling averages, previous voting records, and demographics. Where appropriate, we’ve included third-party candidates who have a shot at a win (or at least a shot at shifting the balance in a major way).
1 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Nevada

Electoral Votes: 6

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 47.0%
Donald Trump: 46.6%

While Nevadans were fans of Obama, voting him into office in 2008 and 2012, they also supported his Republican predecessor George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. This year's polls have been going back and forth on whom Nevada residents favor, with Clinton currently in the lead.
2 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Florida

Electoral Votes: 29

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 48.2%
Donald Trump: 48.2%

The Sunshine State might outshine the rest of the states when it comes to stealing the limelight of the presidential race. It has the most Electoral College votes of any swing state, making it an important win for either campaign. A week and a half before the election, the state looks to be leaning more towards Clinton, but not by much. The Democrat leads Republican Trump by an average of just over one point in recent polling.
Advertisement
3 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Colorado

Electoral Votes: 9

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 47.5%
Donald Trump: 44.1%

Colorado is a swing state in the truest sense — over the past four elections it’s gone back and forth, proving wins for Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, before granting victories to Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The pendulum should be set to swing back Republican, but at the moment, it looks like it’ll go to Clinton, as she leads her opponent by about four percentage points.
4 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Ohio

Electoral Votes: 18

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 45.9%
Donald Trump: 48.1%

The race in Ohio is the epitome of a tight one. Trump has led Clinton in four out of the last five polls, but it’s still a slender lead. At the moment, FiveThirtyEight is giving Trump a slim margin to win.

5 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Maine

Electoral Votes: 4

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 49.6%
Donald Trump: 43.4%

Maine is a little weird when it comes to how it portions out its electoral votes. While the majority-vote winner gets two electoral votes, the state also hands out one vote to each winner of its two congressional districts. Theoretically, this means that one candidate can walk away with three electoral votes, while the other gets one.

In fact, this is entirely possible in this election, per FiveThirtyEight. While Clinton has a strong chance of winning Maine’s District 1, the race in the other half of the state is much tighter. Clinton currently leads Trump by about six points in Maine as a whole, though.
6 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Minnesota

Electoral Votes: 10

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 49.2%
Donald Trump: 43.8%

Though Minnesota swings traditionally blue, it’s been increasingly leaning towards the Republican party over the past two decades. While the Democrats still have an advantage, Republicans have been making inroads that make it a state to watch, per FiveThirtyEight.
7 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Iowa

Electoral Votes: 6

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 45.0%
Donald Trump: 48.6%

Iowa traditionally kicks off the presidential races with the Iowa caucus, the first race of the primary season. As such, it has a psychological importance in the presidential race that doesn’t quite measure up to its meager electoral weight. With one day to go, Trump seems to be leading.
Advertisement
8 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Michigan

Electoral Votes: 16

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 48.4%
Donald Trump: 44.4%

Michigan has tilted Democrat in the past six presidential elections, and is looking to go that way again in 2016. Clinton is leading Trump by about four percentage points a day before the election.
9 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Pennsylvania

Electoral Votes: 20

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 49.4%
Donald Trump: 45.8%

Though Donald Trump has proclaimed that he could never lose Pennsylvania in an honest election, the polls are suggesting otherwise. Clinton has a lead in the most recent polls in the state, which has gone blue in every presidential election since the 1990s.
10 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
New Hampshire

Electoral Votes: 4

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 47.4%
Donald Trump: 44.7%

New England, overall, may be as stereotypically blue as the South is red, but New Hampshire is no guarantee.

Demographically
, the Granite State is about 94% white — as opposed to a national average of about 77% — but also slightly better educated. This could be a mixed bag for Trump, who has been doing well with whites, but specifically those without college educations. One week before the election, though, New Hampshire seems to be leaning Democrat.
11 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
North Carolina

Electoral Votes: 15

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 48.2%
Donald Trump: 48.2%

North Carolina has a long history of voting Republican in presidential races, swinging red in almost every election since 1980. The lone exception is when the state went to Barack Obama in 2008, but the win was slim — only three-tenths of a percentage point, per 270toWin. This year, the race is just as tight, with an even split the day before the election.
12 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Virginia

Electoral Votes: 13

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 49.9%
Donald Trump: 45.0%

Clinton’s kept a lead in recent polls, and a sizable one at that. One week before the election she’s an average of seven points ahead of Trump in the state, which has historically swung Republican, though it went to Obama in 2008 and 2012. Clinton may be helped along by the fact that Virginia has a significant minority population as compared to the rest of the nation — nearly 1 in 5 residents are Black or African American, a demographic that tends to favor Clinton over Trump.
Advertisement
13 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Wisconsin

Electoral Votes: 10

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 49.6%
Donald Trump: 44.8%

Wisconsin has tended to vote blue in presidential races, but pollsters are keeping an eye on it for its demographics — Wisconsin is more white than the nation as a whole, and has lower education rates, giving the Trump campaign a possible edge there.

However, a day before the election, it looks like the state may keep to form. Clinton is leading in all the most recent polls.
14 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Utah

Electoral Votes: 6

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 27.3%
Donald Trump: 38.0%
Evan McMullin: 28.0%

Utah is throwing a wrench into the traditional two candidate setup — former CIA officer and third-party candidate Evan McMullin is polling surprisingly strongly in Utah, taking between 20 to 30% of the vote in most polls, and even winning the state in a recent poll by Emerson College.

While Trump still has a solid lead, FiveThirtyEight's polls-plus forecast puts McMullin in second place with an 11.4% chance of winning, as compared to Clinton’s 3.3%.
15 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Georgia

Electoral Votes: 16

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 45.4%
Donald Trump: 50.1%

Georgia is pretty reliably red, having gone to a Democrat in the presidential election only once since the 1980s. The state has a relatively large Black population, though — a full 31% of Georgians identify as Black or African-American, which could work in Clinton's favor.

Nevertheless, this year doesn’t look to be the one to shake up tradition. Trump has a comfortable lead over Clinton in the most recent polls.
16 of 16
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Arizona

Electoral Votes: 11

Current Polls:
Hillary Clinton: 45.1%
Donald Trump: 48.4%

Arizona has swung Republican in every presidential election since 2000, with the GOP having a comfortable cushion of at least six percentage points in those races, according to 270toWin. The day before the election, it looks like the trend may continue.
Advertisement