Battleground States are the new Swing States

In Moderation
Aug 13, 2016 · 4 min read

We’re going to hear a lot about Battleground states now, as opposed to Swing states. When the election isn’t close, there’s no election to swing. States where the polling is close are now referred to as battleground states.

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats clearly organized and performed a better convention than Trump and the Republicans. Voters take those organizational and performance skills seriously when choosing a president, and Clinton has enjoyed a sustained surge in the polls after both conventions. (Surge is the new bump!) Virginia is now polling consistently with a double digit percentage lead for Clinton. Her team has stopped spending money there. Virginia is no longer a swing state. It’s a Clinton stronghold. That also grows the tally of solid Clinton states from 260 Electoral votes to 273.

Election forecasts all start with the solid Clinton and Trump states, and vary from there.


On 270ToWin , clicking polls based on the map page gives us:

Long term poll averages

270ToWin averages recent polls, and when data is unavailable, forecasts based on previous elections (such as North and South Dakota as solid red states). The map doesn’t give Clinton District 2 of Maine, leaving her with 272 votes instead of 273.


ElectionGraphs also demonstrates Clinton’s solid 273 vote base.

Averages the last 5 polls

Just above their map is an electoral breakdown. It shows Trumps ‘best case’ scenario as losing to Clinton by the familiar 273 votes.

ElectionGraphs’ Scenario Summaries

In other words, it would take some unlikely circumstances for Trump to rebound enough to with the election 85 days from now.

The two sites above use polling averages. Forecasters usually consider the latest information more valuable.


FiveThirtyEight gives more weight to recent polls. They actually have 3 forecast models, Polls only, Polls Plus and the Now Cast.

Currently the Polls Plus forecast is the most favorable to Trump. One of the things it adjusts for is convention bounces. It seems to think Clinton’s poll numbers will fade as we get further from the convention. (It may be conflating Trumps battle with the Khan family and other missteps with Clinton’s convention bounce. ) Or perhaps it’s a surge and not a bump.

538’s Poll-plus forecast

So even the Polls-plus forecast has Clinton’s solid 273 Electoral votes dark blue. Notice it also has Nevada, Florida and North Carolina going to Clinton. The Polls Only and Now Casts go further, giving Clinton Georgia and Arizona. But the point is, Clinton’s 273 base is solid in pretty much any analysis.

FiveThirtyEight also gives a chance of winning in percentage. Polls-Plus has that at 78%. That’s in line with other forcasters, including the odds makers.


David Rothschild’s Predictwise relies heavily on market data to predict the election winner. It shows Democrats with a 79% chance of winning the presidency in November, which is right in line with FiveThirtyEight’s forecast.


The gambling sites agree with these forecasts with a bet on Clinton paying less than 25% return , and a bet on Trump paying up to 4 to 1. So the smart money is on Clinton.

Battleground States

With the swing states locked up by Clinton for now, we’re left with several interesting Battleground States. Let’s define a battleground state as a state where the leading candidate has less than 66% chance of victory in FiveThirtyEight’s Poll’s-Plus model, or the odds of the underdog taking the state are less than 2 to 1. The Battleground States are North Carolina, Iowa, Florida, and Ohio. Look for the candidates and forecasters to focus on these four states.


The states that could become Battleground states (or Swing States if things move dramatically in Trumps favor) are New Hampshire, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. As momentum sways over the next few months, we’ll likely hear about these states also.

538’s States ordered by projected margin of victory.

Right now all the battleground states and outliers are all projected to go to Clinton. Which underscores that Clinton currently has a solid 273 electoral votes. Trump has an uphill battle before approaching Clinton’s base.

More From Medium

Also tagged Donald Trump

Also tagged Donald Trump

Also tagged Donald Trump

Leading From Way Behind

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade