Which swing states are most important? Nothing is to be fully trusted in 2016

Just days out from Election Day, the commanding lead Hillary Clinton held over Donald Trump in the wake of a series of sexual assault allegations against Trump, along with audio admission of Trump boasting about sexual assault, has greatly diminished. Various national polls released earlier this week have the two candidates neck and neck, but as we all know, within an electoral college system, the real money is in the state polling. That being said, which swing states are most important for Clinton and Trump?

In swing states, the two major political parties enjoy very similar levels of support among voters, and in this sense, they’re where the real competition lies. Candidates aren’t going to focus on states that already lean strongly in favor of their party, almost ensuring they’ll win that state. Of course, that’s assuming Trump will win fiercely red states and Clinton, left-leaning states like California or Washington, but nothing about this goddamn election has been predictable or normal, so who knows if that will actually be the case or not.

According to some projections, the candidate who is able to win 79 of the 156 electoral votes from the following 12 swing states identified by Politico is most likely to win the election:

  • Florida (29 electoral votes)
  • Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes)
  • Ohio (18 electoral votes)
  • Michigan (16 electoral votes)
  • North Carolina (15 electoral votes)
  • Virginia (13 electoral votes)
  • Minnesota (10 electoral votes)
  • Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)
  • Colorado (9 electoral votes)
  • Nevada (6 electoral votes)
  • Iowa (6 electoral votes)
  • New Hampshire (4 electoral votes)

One obvious way to measure the “importance” of swing states is through how many votes they have in the electoral college.

Florida, though traditionally a red state, has become a more even state, where CNN estimates Clinton has a roughly 2 point lead over Trump (49 to 47 percent), and is arguably the most important of these swing states. Recent polling in Pennsylvania, with its sizable 20 electoral votes, shows Clinton holding a lead over Trump ranging from 2 to 6 points. In states like Michigan, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and others, Clinton also maintains relatively sizable leads over Trump. Meanwhile, in states like Ohio, Nevada, and Iowa, Trump maintains very modest leads over Clinton.

However, even in states that have always leaned one way or another, this election season has seen quite the shakeup. In the state of Texas for example, October polling saw Clinton and Trump in a statistical deadbeat. Ever since the latest Clinton email scandal/non-scandal, though, Trump has regained his lead over Clinton in the red state, but still, his lead is nowhere near as high as you’d expect it to be in the Lone Star state.

Polling just speaks to the unpredictable nature of this election season, and frankly, we won’t know anything for sure until Nov. 9.