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State Politics During Presidential Elections

What are the blue states, red states, and swing states we hear so much about?

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Around election time, states are usually called “blue” or “red.”

On electoral maps, states are organized by colors to distinguish their voting patterns. Typically, these voting patterns come from trends that have been around for years.

Blue stands for the Democratic Party, so “blue states” support the Democrats. Red is the color of the Republican Party, so “red states” usually vote Republican. “Purple” states have a mix of Democrat and Republican voters. States that aren’t so predictable are called “swing states” since they can swing to either party during an election – this makes them very important for deciding the vote.

States like California, New York, and Massachusetts are considered dark blue states because they almost always vote for Democratic candidates for president.

In a red state, the Republican Party is the top party. States like Mississippi, Wyoming, and North Dakota are seen as deep red states. Texas was once thought to be a deep red state, but recent elections show that the Democratic Party is getting more support.

Swing states are believed to make the biggest difference during a presidential election. Either party has a chance at winning. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina are swing states.

Sometimes, when people try to guess how a swing state will go, they’re wrong. The best example of this was the 2016 election. Polls around the nation showed Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump easily. Of course, that’s not how things went.

Some say the marking of states as blue or red is an outdated practice, especially since states have flipped back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in the last decades. Every election, new states are up for grabs by both candidates, showing how quickly voter preferences can change. Many have criticized the focus presidential candidates place on swing states, which tends to exclude other states from a candidate’s attention.

By the time of the 2024 presidential election, it’s almost a certainty that states that look heavily red or blue today will be toss-ups and up for grabs by the next presidential candidates.

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Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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