Safe State vs. Swing State

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Ben Mason

Eng.1001 sect. 38

9/26/12

The Voting Playground:

Play it safe? Or swing? This is a concern that arises for presidential candidates every four years as we

approach presidential elections. First, there are two terms to be recognized: “safe state” and “swing state”. In a

“safe state” the presidential candidate of a particular party has the vast majority of support of that state's voters,

regularly, so that he/she can safely assume the favorable outcome of the state's electoral college votes. Some

well-known safe states are California for democrats, and Texas for republicans. On the contrary, there are states

that are not like safe states and no single candidate or party has overwhelming support of the votes. These are

called “swing states” or “battleground states”. Some examples of swing states of this election are Florida, Iowa,

Colorado, and others.

In the voting world, the president is decided through representative votes by the states. This is called the

electoral college. A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election. For 48 states, it is a

winner-takes-all election which means that whichever candidate receives a majority of the popular vote, or a

plurality of the popular vote (less than 50 percent but more than any other candidate), takes all of the state's

electoral votes. Maine and Nebraska are the only states that use a proportional vote system. In these states, there

could be a split of electoral votes among candidates.(Dugan) The electoral college plays a huge role on the topic

of safe states and swing states by effecting the behaviors of presidential candidates. For instance, safe states that

are known to vote a certain way will not receive near as much attention or campaigning as swing states during

the times close to elections. This is why candidates fight over swing states that may only have as little as 4

electoral votes, instead of fighting for states with a lot more.(Dugan) An example of this would be Romney and

Obama spending large amounts of money campaigning in a swing state such as Iowa with 7 electoral votes and

very little in a safe state like California with 55 electoral votes.(Politico) Candidates do not put a lot of effort into

safe states because it is unlikely that he/she can change the minds of the people there. Also, one will not spend

time and money campaigning in safe states because he/she may already have the support of the people in those

states. As you can see, the electoral college is key to understanding how safe states and swing states work.

There is a kind of two party dictatorship in today's American politics and the vast majority of voters fall

into these two categories or parties: Republican or Democratic. Every election period there are two candidates

running for these parties. In order for the candidate to get the vote of a particular state he/she must run a

campaign. The aggressiveness and frequency of the campaigns might vary due to the status of a party's influence

over certain states. Sometimes the candidates have to modify there stance or ideals on certain issues to fit to that

particular state. An example would be that some candidates may want to position themselves to appeal to a

certain ethnic group of that area. Obama has tried to appeal to the Hispanic vote in Colorado due to the growing

number of Hispanic immigrants. (Larcinese) This may be a smart move because he is usually popular among

minority groups. In return, Romney has tried to address people in rural areas. Recent polls show that he is 14

percent more popular with people in rural areas than Obama is.(Gruber) Also, issues that are a big concern in an

area may be emphasized. Things like restoring the health of a declining ecosystem may be brought up in an area

that is suffering from deforestation or pollution to secure the votes...
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