As the 2024 presidential election inches closer, there are a number of states where the race for the White House could go in either direction. Battleground states played key roles in deciding the presidential outcomes in both 2016 and 2020, and based on recent polls, are likely to do the same again this November.
Former President Donald Trump won in 2016 in part by building a “red wall” of battleground states in the Midwest, with his victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin often cited as the race’s deciding factors. President Joe Biden was able to beat Trump four years later predominantly by flipping these states back to Democratic, and whoever the nominees are in 2024 will undoubtedly have to capture these states to become the next president. Here’s a look at the battleground states in the 2024 presidential election.
America’s Dairyland could end up poking some Swiss cheese-sized holes in the upcoming election, just as it did in 2016 and 2020. It is likely that the path to the presidency “will run directly through Wisconsin as the swing state could prove pivotal in deciding which party emerges victorious,” Spectrum News Milwaukee reported.
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While Wisconsin has only 10 electoral votes, it “could once again be the tipping point state,” Anthony Chergosky, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, told Spectrum. This is one major reason why the GOP has chosen to host the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.
Demographics near Wisconsin’s major cities are noticeably shifting, as Milwaukee’s suburbs “historically voted Republican but have been shifting towards Democrats over the last several years,” NPR reported. This could be the deciding factor in a state where four of the last six presidential races were decided by less than 1%.
Michigan has similarly become a predictive state for those looking to capture the White House — in 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the Wolverine State by just two votes per precinct, and would go on to lose the election. Biden won the state’s 16 electoral votes in 2020 in large part due to his support from Black people in the Detroit suburbs and will look to do the same this year.
However, recent polling from The Detroit News, which surveyed 600 voters, showed Biden trailing Trump by eight points in Michigan’s general election. Only 17% said Biden, the Democratic incumbent, “deserved another term leading the country,” the outlet said, and “marked a low for a major public officeholder in modern Michigan political history,” per the conductors of the poll.
But Michigan overall has “tilted more toward Democrats since 2016 than Wisconsin,” CNN reported, though it is “possible that order could shift in November.” The state has a large Arab American and Muslim population, and each candidate’s plan for handling the Israel-Hamas war could prove to be a deciding factor in the contest.
The Keystone State secured Biden’s threshold of victory in 2020, and Pennsylvania’s 19 electoral votes will undoubtedly play a key role again this year. And unlike in Michigan, the president is currently ahead in Pennsylvania, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. The poll found 49% of voters supporting Biden and 46% supporting Trump, which marks the “first time in Pennsylvania that Biden has a numerical advantage over Trump in the 2024 presidential race,” according to Quinnipiac.
But this margin could change at any time given the earliness of the race. Pennsylvania was also riddled four years ago with unfounded accusations of voter fraud from Trump and his team, and some are worried that a similar scenario could play out in 2024.
Many elections workers are arguing that Pennsylvania “should update its century-old Election Code, make long-sought adjustments to mail voting processes and strengthen the system against bogus fraud claims,” Spotlight PA reported. At least four of these workers told the outlet there were changes needed to “shore up Pennsylvania’s system against frivolous fraud allegations.”
While traditionally a Republican bastion, the Peach State is undergoing a “transition from GOP stronghold to a premier battleground as the political calendar turns to the 2024 presidential cycle,” The Associated Press reported.
The AP’s assessment came after Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock won his runoff election at the end of 2022, cementing Georgia with two Democratic senators for the foreseeable future. However, as AP also noted, Warnock’s victory “came a month after Gov. Brian Kemp led the GOP’s general election sweep of Georgia’s statewide constitutional offices.”
While Biden won Georgia in 2020, the state’s dueling political victories are likely to make it a tossup this November. It may become “the toughest battleground test in his bid for re-election in 2024,” Fox News reported, and the state’s 16 electoral votes “could ultimately determine who ends up in the White House on Inauguration Day 2025.” The outlet noted that Trump has had a recent advantage in the state’s polls, which has been “strengthened by Biden’s lackluster support from Black voters.”
Biden’s victory in Arizona marked the first time a Democrat had carried the state since former President Bill Clinton in 1996 — and was only the second time Arizona had gone blue since the 1940s. Its 11 electoral votes will once again be a key commodity in 2024.
Arizona notably has one of the largest contingents of independent voters, which could be a determinant in a state that Biden won by just 10,000 votes in 2020. Independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in Arizona, according to Reuters. A poll cited by the outlet last summer reported that “37% of independents nationally said the criminal cases against Trump made them less likely to vote for him for president.”
While many independents appear to have not made up their mind, others “are still supporting the brash former reality TV showman, who asserts without evidence he is a victim of a judicial system biased against Republicans,” Reuters reported.
While Nevada may carry only six electoral votes, this could make all the difference in a race that is expected to be razor-close. Such was the case in 2020, when Biden won the state by just 3%.
While much of rural Nevada remains Republican, Las Vegas and Reno remain bastions for the Democratic Party. However, former Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) “was also the nation’s only incumbent Democratic governor to lose in 2022,” the Nevada Current noted. This is partially because Sisolak “passed up multiple opportunities to saddle his Republican opponent, Joe Lombardo, with Trump and Trumpism,” the Current added.
Who wins Nevada may depend on the narrative forged in the Silver State. If Biden, who has been calling Trump a threat to democracy, is able to convince voters of this, then he may carry the state. Nonetheless, Nevada is often a political enigma: The state has voted for the Democratic candidate for president for the last four election cycles but has had just one Democratic governor since 1999.