Analysis: These eight battleground states that will decide the 2020 presidential election

Trump's unlikely to win the popular vote, but it's entirely possible he could pull off an Electoral College victory

Published September 8, 2020 12:55PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden | Texas (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden | Texas (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

The 2020 presidential election in the United States will not be decided by predictably blue states like California, Massachusetts, Oregon and New York or by deep red states like Utah, Alabama and Mississippi, but by swing states that can go either Democrat or Republican. President Donald Trump is unlikely to win the popular vote this year, but it is entirely possible that he could pull off a narrow Electoral College victory if he carries enough swing states. And Politico examines eight battleground states in a series of articles written by its team of reporters and published after Labor Day weekend.

The eight states that Politico focuses on include four northern states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota) and three southern states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina) as well as Arizona. Collectively, these eight states have 127 electoral votes, and Politico has published an article for each state.

"Within each of these swing states," Politico's staff explains, "the roadmap ahead for President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is clear. The president must max out his performance with rural voters. Biden needs a robust turnout in the big cities, particularly among African-American voters. Trump must halt his erosion in the suburbs, and turn out white working class voters who didn't vote in 2016."

If a state went from George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016, it most definitely qualifies as a swing state or a battleground state — and that is exactly how Florida has voted over the years. Politico's Marc Caputo says of Florida, "Biden has a marginal lead over Trump in polls here. Last month, for the first time in at least a decade, more Florida Democrats cast primary election ballots than Republicans. Democrats also dominated voting by mail and became competitive in several red districts where they didn't have a prayer before."

Most of the eight states that Politico examines are states that Trump won in 2016. The exception is Minnesota, which Democrat Hillary Clinton carried. And Minnesota is the one Clinton state that pundits believe Trump has a chance of flipping.

Politico's David Siders notes, "It's been so long since Minnesota voted Republican in a presidential election that many Democrats suspected a head fake when Trump first boasted about his intent to compete there. But two months before the general election, the race has tightened — and both Trump and Biden are pouring millions of dollars into the state."

After the 1980s, Pennsylvania went Democratic in every presidential election except 2016 — when Trump narrowly defeated Clinton in the Keystone State. Politico's Philadelphia-based Holly Otterbein reports that Biden "currently enjoys a solid, though not overwhelming, lead of about 4 percentage points in the state, according to polling averages" and that former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat, predicts, "The election is going to be close in Pennsylvania. It always is."

The three Rust Belt states that Trump unexpectedly won in 2016 were Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump's victory in Ohio didn't come as a shock, as it was known for being a Bush/Obama swing state.

Arizona, in the past, was a deep red state and was synonymous with the conservatism of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, Sen. John McCain. But Arizona has evolved into a swing state, and it is clearly in play for Biden in 2020. Politico's Laura Barrón-López notes that in Arizona, Biden "has more than $17 million currently reserved on the airwaves between now and Nov. 3."

Georgia, like Texas, is a light red state where polls are showing Biden to be competitive. Politico's Elena Schneider observes, "The prospect of turning Georgia blue for the first time since 1992 is a stretch. For Joe Biden to win the state, Democrats will need something close to a blowout win in the Atlanta suburbs and a surge in black voter turnout. It's a tall order, but the party took significant steps in that direction in 2018, when Stacey Abrams only narrowly lost her bid for governor in 2018 and Democrats flipped one suburban congressional seat."

By Alex Henderson

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