We've already heard a lot about the so-called "swing states" this year, and before November you can be sure we'll be hearing a whole lot more. Those are the states that supposedly could go either Democratic or Republican, and it is in these states that the outcome of the presidential election will be decided. Of course, that brings up the question of just what states are the swing states. And it turns out that question is not as easily answered as it is asked.
The University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs took a look at that question. They examined 12 different news outlets to see which states they defined as swing states. The media analyzed were ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, National Journal, New York Times, PBS, USA Today, Washington Post, Politico, Wall Street Journal, and Real Clear Politics. One of the first things they noticed was that their was not a lot of agreement among these media sources as to which states were swing states.
In fact, there were only two states that all 12 could agree were swing states -- Florida and Virginia. There were another five states that 11 out of the 12 sources could agree on being swing states -- Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and New Hampshire. That makes a pretty good consensus that those seven states are swing states.
After that, agreement falls off pretty quickly. Only 8 of these media declared North Carolina to be a swing state, and 7 thought Wisconsin was a swing state. Four of the media thought Michigan was a swing state. Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania were each chosen as swing states by two of the media sources. Indiana and Minnesota were each picked as swing states by the National Journal -- the only media source to pick all of the above-named states as swing states.
So there you have it. The swing states will surely be important in the coming election, but the media can't even agree on which states they are. That probably shouldn't have surprised me.
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