Targeting the Swing States

Because of the unique nature of the American electoral system, votes in certain evenly matched states have extra power. No where was this more clear than Florida in 2000 (25 electoral votes), which was ultimately declared for Bush by 537 votes, giving him the election even though he lost the popular vote by over half a million votes. However, the race was also extremely close in New Mexico (5 electoral votes, won by Gore by 366 votes), Wisconsin (11 electoral votes, won by Gore by 5708 votes), Iowa (7 electoral votes, won by Gore by 4144 votes), and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes, won by Bush by 7211). For more data and analysis, check Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections and the new Swing State Project blog.

With razor-thin margins like this, the election comes down to turnout: increasing your voters' and decreasing the other guy's. Hence Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaigns and negative campaign advertisements.

Despite the way the President Bush has governed and his war-boosted popularity ratings, America is still a 50/50 nation. The 2004 election, like the 2000 election, will probably be very close and be decided based on turnout in a few key states. So it's nice to know there are at least three organizations out there gearing up to take on the Bush machine, which is aiming to raise a record-breaking $200 million.

These are the only swing state efforts I know of now, but there will be others -- not to mention the conservative counter-efforts.

For in-depth analysis of the political situation in the swing states, check out the Swing State Project. They include the following states based on the formula (Gore + Nader) - (Bush + Buchanan) = +/- 10 points. That's a broader group that ACT is targeting. It includes: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa Louisiana, Maine (2nd CD), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.