US Election 2020: Which are the key swing states?

3 November 2020, 19:32

By Maddie Goodfellow

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The US election is less than a week away, with Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden battling it out in the race to the White House.

Biden is in the lead in polling so far, but anything could happen on November 3.

The result depends on several key swing states, some of which have played crucial roles in past elections.

Here are the states which could make a huge difference to the result and how things have played out in the past.


Currently held by: Republicans

Traditionally a Republican state, voting red in all bar two elections since World War Two, the Party’s winning margin has narrowed here in recent years.

Donald Trump won Arizona by just four percentage points in the last election, but recent polls have shown Biden leading.

Almost a third of the population of Arizona, which borders Mexico, are Hispanic, and are more likely to vote Democrat.

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Currently held by: Republicans

One of the most important swing states and with the third highest number of Electoral College votes, Florida is key for the candidates to win in the race to the White House.

The candidate who has won Florida has become president at every election since 1992.

The two parties were separated by just one percentage point at the last election.

Biden is just ahead in polls, but that could all change by next week.

Florida was the epicentre of huge controversy during the 2000 election, with the result not known for a month after polling day due to a recount and a Supreme Court ruling.

The scandal revolved around voters using punch-card ballots, resulting in “hanging chads,” where corners were still attached to the ballot rather than removing the entire portion of paper.

George W Bush eventually won the state by just 537 votes.


Currently held by: Republicans

The state has been historically Republican for almost 50 years, but voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter, who is from the state, in 1976.

But President Trump won here in 2016 by just five percentage points, and the state has swung to the left in recent years.

He and Biden now look neck-and-neck with a week to go until Election Night.

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Currently held by: Republicans

Michigan was the closest state by margin in the 2016 election, when Trump was the first Republican to win the state since 1988.

It was captured by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, and looked set to stay that way until Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 by just 10,704 votes.

But a recent poll puts Biden strongly ahead, with many Democrats sure they can win back the Great Lake State.


Currently held by: Democrats

A Democrat stronghold, held by the party since 1976, was almost turned red in 2016 when Mr Trump was less than two percentage points from winning.

The last Republican to win the state was Richard Nixon in 1972.

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North Carolina

Currently held by: Republicans

Voting Democrat in 2008 but Republican in 2012, North Carolina is a key state to win for both candidates.

Biden currently has a 51-47 advantage according to one poll, but the battle looks set to be tight.


Currently held by: Republicans

Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by just 0.72 per cent in 2016, but faces a huge challenge here on Election Night - Biden was born in the state and is currently ahead in the polls.

Winning Pennsylvania meant Trump passed the important 270 college vote mark, making this one of the key swing states.

The state had voted Democrat until it switched in 2016 but remains fairly evenly split.


Currently held by: Republicans

Another close call in the 2016 election, the incumbent won by just under 23,000 votes – the first Republican winner since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Biden also has a lead here, and has visited three times on the election trail, unlike Hillary Clinton, who did not visit once – seen by many as a key mistake in her campaign.