If you’ve been following the polls – and the betting odds – you will already know that things are looking pretty good for Joe Biden ahead of November’s US Presidential election.
However, the complex electoral college system that the election uses means that the Democratic candidate is far from home and hosed.
Indeed, it’s looking increasingly as if the so-called ‘swing states’ will go a long way to deciding the election.
What is a Swing State?
These are, this cannot be stressed enough, the states where partner-swapping is most prevalent; instead, swing states are those which could vote either Democrat or Republican – there is no defined voting pattern as there is some fanatical blue and red areas.
Historically speaking, much of the West Coast has voted Democrat, with little change from election to election. Conversely, the Deep South and Florida tend to vote Republican – and there isn’t a great deal that can change that. Let’s face it: if Donald Trump is still being supported after four years of chaos then there is very little that can be done.
And so the presidential candidates and their running mates tend to focus on the states where the voting looks set to be a bit more marginal – maybe, with a considerable push, they can swing it to the right or the left.
Remember, both Trump and George Bush Jr won elections despite winning fewer votes than their rivals – the national popular vote doesn’t always reflect who is going to win the race to the White House, as Hillary Clinton and Al Gore found out to their cost.
What are the Traditional Swing States in US Elections?
The swing states tend to change from one election to the next, to some extent, but they are those that exist beyond the red and blue power blocks.
So, the Republicans will be expecting to win in the mountains and across the ‘great plains’, which range from Nebraska and Oklahoma to Kansas and Utah. Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama….you kind of get the picture. Even Alaska turns red once every four years!
As for the Democrats, it’s the West Coast (California, Washington, Oregon) and the Mid-Atlantic range – New York, New Jersey and Maryland – where they do the best of their work, as well as New England and even Hawaii.
And so the swing states are those which exist beyond these boundaries, and most are absolutely fair game in each election.
What Are the Main Swing States in 2020?
The early analysis, conducted by leading data firm FiveThirtyEight, suggests that some states are making considerable moves one way or another.
Their stats reveal that Michigan and Iowa are going Republican, while some typically red states are turning blue – amazingly, Texas, Georgia and Arizona are among them, and these three look set to be major swing states in 2020.
The Guardian has revealed their own poll tracker, and that reveals that Michigan has actually turned back to the Democrats by around five percentage points.
The other swing states are shaping up in a way that would hand Joe Biden the keys to the White House:
- Florida – Democrat (29 votes)
- Pennsylvania – Democrat (20 votes)
- Michigan – Democrat (16 votes)
- North Carolina – Democrat (15 votes)
- Arizona – Democrat (11 votes)
- Wisconsin – Democrat (10 votes)
- Ohio – Republican (18 votes)
- Iowa – Republican (6 votes)
As you can see, the swing states are currently painting a blue picture, but – usual disclaimer – remember that the polls aren’t always the most reliable source of actual voting intention.
US Presidential Election Betting 2020
So how do the betting odds for the swing states stack up compared to The Guardian’s poll tracker?
Taking their data at face value, there is some value to be found in the state-by-state market. Florida appears to have a major shift to the blue side, and yet punters can find 10/11 available with some bookmakers over a Democrat victory in the south east – that is either outstanding value or a suggestion that the polls should not be trusted.
The Michigan shift has been noted (Biden is 4/11 to get the nod here) as has Pennsylvania, and you can double these two together for a wager that pays at around the even money mark.
You can get chunky odds of 7/10 and 8/11 on Democratic victories in Arizona and North Carolina respectively, while a huge 8/13 is available on a Republican win in Ohio.
As ever, keep your eyes peeled to the news for how the debates shape the poll in the coming weeks…