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5 States Likely to Become Battleground States by 2016

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Presidential politics are all about numbers, from campaign spending, third party interest funding, and electoral votes (EV). Battleground states, by definition, shift the winning side every 4 years or so, hence they are where both Democrats and Republicans fight the hardest for each vote.

With 29 electoral votes, near even partisan registration, a diverse Hispanic population, and densely populated urban areas, Florida will be a battleground state for many more election cycles.
Florida has nearly as many registered Democrats as Republicans, a diverse Latino population, and pockets of densely populated urban areas. It is expensive to run a campaign in the Sunshine State and with 29 electoral votes, it is sure to be a battleground state for many more cycles to come.

Other states that currently fall into the “battleground state” category are Ohio, the centerpiece in 2004’s election, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. These states will undoubtedly remain heavily contested, but there are others.

Nate Silver provided an excellent analysis after Obama’s 2012 victory, noting the traditional swing states like Iowa that leaned Democratic as well as newer ones like Nevada and Colorado. This article looks at that trend to see how 2016 is shaping up.

These battleground states arise from social issues and changing demographics. Voter turnout is worth considering, but so are recent elections. The 2010 midterm put a lot of states in danger for the Democrats, but Obama still won many of them in 2012. Much can happen in 2 years.



New Mexico is one of several states that show a growing Latino population that does not align to one political party. Bill Richardson was a popular Democratic governor and former cabinet member in the Clinton Administration. When he was term-limited, Susana Martinez, a Republican, won a tight race in 2010. Meanwhile, Obama’s margin of victory dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Are more Democrats losing momentum or are Republicans gaining some? The winner of the Latino vote is likely to win New Mexico and similar states.



Nevada is arguably the most under-reported bellwether state. Over the past 100 years, Nevada voted for the winner 24 out of 25 times with Jimmy Carter in 1976 being the lone exception. That impressive statistic was before 2012. Perhaps it was due to its small number of electoral votes, but Nevada has seen that number double to 6 since 1980.

There is still a long way to go to 270, but other stats show other reasons Nevada will play an important role.

Obama won Nevada in 2008 and 2012, but that doesn’t mean it will go blue in 2016. The Latino population growth is outpacing whites in Nevada. Fortunately for Obama, in Nevada the Latino vote edged his way 70-25. While it was lower than 2008’s share, there was a higher turnout among Latinos the second time around.

An increase in turnout is better for democracy, but it may not always favor the Democrats.



Obviously the Latino vote is important in Arizona. However, that is not the only thing that has changed in the state over the decades.

The Grand Canyon State has been safely red back well before Reagan, except in 1996 when the state went to Bill Clinton. When it seemed Arizona was turning left, the GOP gradually regained more ground. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates have made stronger inroads with the Latino population, although turnout is key and one of several problems holding Arizona from being a true battleground state.



Obama won the Centennial State back-to-back, an impressive feat considering the state’s past.

In 1992, Clinton was the first democrat since LBJ to carry Colorado. That did not last long because Colorado went to Bob Dole on the losing end in 1996 and went red in 2000 and 2004 as well. Is Colorado a swing state like Florida or Ohio or does this mean that Colorado went from purple to blue fairly quickly?

Since U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate’s Gang of Eight on immigration reform, defeated Ken Buck in a close 2010 election, this may indicate that Colorado is more the latter — more blue than purple.

However, another key factor to consider is the rise of independent voters in the state. From 2012 to 2014 alone, voters choosing not to affiliate with either major party rose 20.6 percent in Colorado, the largest increase among the key states in the 2014 elections.

Aside from the Latino population, there are other states that favored Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections.

Wisconsin is one of many states that switched parties in the governor’s mansion. While Pennsylvania’s Ed Rendell and New Mexico’s Richardson were term-limited, Republicans Tom Corbett and Susana Martinez grabbed their executive seats. Perhaps it was a weak set of Democratic candidates, but Republicans Rick Scott and Rick Snyder became governors of Florida and Michigan, respectively. Chris Christie and John Kasich even defeated Democratic incumbents in states traditionally considered solidly blue states. That is over 100 electoral votes in those seven states alone.



Scott Walker may currently be the luckiest governor. Since Jim Doyle, the previous governor, opted not to run for a third term, Walker defeated Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett twice, one in 2010 and again in a recall election. Meanwhile, President Obama carried Wisconsin in 2008 and 2012. When turnout is up, Wisconsin looks more blue.

There are multiple paths to victory in 2016 involving any number of these politically purple states and others. Whoever the candidates are, they will have to campaign through old and new battleground states to ultimately win 270+ electoral votes. The future may be uncertain, but change is always expected in politics.

Who knows, maybe Texas or California will become battleground states?

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

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There is every incentive for republicans to steal this election.  I picked up the pilot, George W. Bush when he was in his twenties and needed a ride in my VW to NOLA from his airbase in Alabama or Mississippi that fronted on I-10.  He tried to drug me with enflurane while I drove the car, but the drug wound up in his own lap.  Enflurane causes amnesia and super-hyper-suggestibility.  He admitted hundreds of crimes to me, the rapes of young teenage Young Republican girls, informed me that he was an air force pilot, a Yale graduate and that his real father was JFK.  I looked at the young man in air force overalls and didn't believe him on any of his claims.  He showed me a paper that proved he was a pilot (he couldn't find his wings) and a little tiny wallet sized copy of his Yale degree.  Of course I still did not believe him about his being Jack Kennedy's son, but that changed when I mentioned he'd mentioned JFK to me to his mother when she insisted on thanking me for "finding" her son.  On mention of Kennedy, she squealed with joy, exclaiming "Oh yes!  We dated!"  First of all, strangely, I recognized her voice somehow.  She sounded kind of like the parents of a friend or someone similar, you know, familiar.  When she acknowledge "knowing" JFK, my blood ran cold.  Later I realized why I recognized her voice.  She'd had a speaking role in Bush for US Senate TV commercials years earlier.  They'd saturated the air waves with it in 1964, and why not?  They could enflurane up all the campaign "contributions" they wanted, easy.  After W. spilled the clear chemical smelling enflurane all over his overalls, he told me about his proudest achievement in life, turning two Young Republican Clubs full of republican teenagers in two cities, Dallas and Houston, into his "own personal wh-re houses," his use of enflurane in solving run-ins with the police (I'd objected to his "open container" of vodka--in which he carried his enflurane stock).  The young Bush also told me about his step-father killing his "real" father, JFK.  Two of our 7th grade's prettiest girls had suddenly become pregnant, Mary B. and Cheryl W. in 1967, and he admitted fathering Cheryl's fetus.  

W. told me about his straight-laced kid half brother, Johnny, getting into UT Law School and his application was denied because he was not considered morally straight enough to become a lawyer, naturally.  Johnny was "clean", according to his half-brother.  But Johnny Ellis Bush, Rubio, and Cruz are all associated with the Plumbers death squad gang that murdered JFK, MLK, RFK, George Wallace, LBJ, and would go on to murder John Lennon, Vince Foster, and attack Gabby Giffords, President Ford, and wound Ronald Reagan.  

It will take a landslide to beat the republican nominee if the Plumbers are 100% behind him/her.  With 3 of them running, I tremble for the future of this nation.

Bubba Nicholson  


New Mexico is not competitive in presidential elections. With the anomalous exception of the 2004 election, it has voted Democratic in every election since 1988 and its margin in favor of the Democrats has substantially increased under Obama. Nevada is also no longer competitive at the presidential level given the rapid increase in the Latino electorate and their overwhelming vote margin in favor of the Democrats. Wisconsin hasn't voted Republican in a presidential contest since 1984, and Obama won the state comfortably both times.

Arizona is slowly trending Democratic and will likely be competitive in 2016 or 2020, while Florida is also growing more Democratic and, at the presidential level, a Democrat would now be slightly favored to win the state in a "standard" presidential contest. Colorado is at present still credibly a swing state, although a Democrat-trending one.  

Conflating presidential and non-presidential election results in a state naturally leads to highly flawed suppositions. 

Ray Bones
Ray Bones

There are 5 swing states left:  NV, CO, OH, FL, & VA.  Since 1992, the rest are either blue or red with a few anomalies such as NC voting Obama in '08, and IA & NM voting Bush in '04.  But NM & WI are blue and AZ red - that won't change.  The other 2 (CO & NV) mentioned in the article are swing.


Texas is not becoming a swing state.  Latino voters does not automatically translate into Democratic voters.  A lot of Latinos can't stand Obama here.  


@JKingsmill Historically Texas Latinos vote 40% GOP, because the Texas Republicans have been relatively Hispanic friendly.  That's changing as national politics creeps into Texas.  Your going to see Hispanic support drop as a result.


Vote For a Republican [?,] and Guarantee  “KOCH's Tea Party WingNUT’s”  and the “CLIVEN BUNDY-Type MILITIA” is Governing Our Country!” 


In 2012 there were nine battleground states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — where the campaigns election was decided. More than 99% of campaign attention was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012.

In 1960, presidential campaigns paid attention to 35 states.

In 2008, Obama only campaigned in 14 states after being nominated.

In 2012, the presidential campaigns only cared about 9 swing states. 

States' partisanship is hardening.

19 states (including California with 55 electoral votes) with a total of 242 electoral votes, have voted Democratic, 1992-2012

13 states with 102 electoral votes have voted Republican, 1992-2012

Some states have not been been competitive for more than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position. In a study before the 2012 election:

·41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2008

·32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2008

·13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2008

·19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2008

·9 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988

·15 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988



Very intriguing break down, I also enjoy the idea of a "purple state". I wonder if this will make candidates discuss more relevant issues from the middle, or swing from side to side in 2016.