Just What Is a Swing State?

swing states

Swing states.  Purple states.  The terms are often used to describe states that are fairly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and/or the ones experts believe could “go either way” in presidential elections.  Politicians, journalists, and “political junkies” likely have their own criteria for determining what a swing state is, as there is no uniform definition.  Enter the web site FiveThirtyEight.com, sometimes termed just 538, which focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics and sports blogging.  Its name is derived from the Electoral College, which consists of 538 electors.

The site has identified a list of 12 “perennial” swing states that have regularly seen close contests over the last few presidential campaigns.  You may be surprised to see Minnesota on the list, but consider Hillary Clinton’s decidedly narrow victory over Donald Trump there in 2016.  Also, in the “blue wave” in the House in 2018, three congressional districts actually went from blue to red nationwide.  Two were in Minnesota!


2016: D-48.1  R-43.3   2012: D-51.5  R-46.1


2016: R-49.0  D-47.8   2012: D-50.0  R-49.1


2016: R-51.2  D-41.7   2012: D-52.0  R-46.2


2016: R-47.5  D-47.3   2012: D-54.2  R-44.7


2016: D-46.4  R-44.9   2012: D-52.7  R-45.0


2016: R-51.7  D-43.6   2012: D-50.7  R-47.7


2016: D-47.9  R-45.5   2012: D-52.4  R-45.7

New Hampshire

2016: R-47.6  D-47.3   2012: D-52.0  R-46.4

North Carolina  

2016: R-49.8  D-46.2   2012: R-50.4  D-48.4


2016: R-48.2  D-47.5   2012: D-52.0  R-46.6


2016: D-49.7  R-44.4   2012: D-51.2  R-47.9


2016: R-47.2  D-46.5   2012: D-52.8  R-45.9

The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) is a senior benefits organization with 1.8 million members.  Jeff Szymanski works in AMAC Political Communications.

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by AMAC, Jeff Szymanski
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x