The Power of Swing States


We are now two weeks out from election day, and the candidates are doing whatever they can to secure votes in swing states.  I believe that classifying states as “swing states” is detrimental to democracy.  Surprisingly at this point there are only 10 states left that are considered ‘Toss ups’ according to the polls from It is rather shocking that basically no votes have been cast (besides absentee and early ballots) but 80% of the country’s states races are considered over.  This declaration discourages democracy in non toss up states.  Currently residing in the “solid Obama” state of California, I have heard some of my colleagues saying that they aren’t voting  because their votes won’t matter since the state is already decidedly Obama.  This is clearly not the case and EVERY VOTE MATTERS.  Declaring a state solid blue or red will undoubtedly lower voter turnout in the state.  As seen in the 2008 presidential election we had a turnout of about only 60%, much lower than other democratic nations.  Is the real problem here the polls or is it something much larger?

I believe that the problem of swing states and low voter turnout is due to the electoral college.  The electoral college is undemocratic because it gives a disproportionate amount of power to swing states in determining presidential elections.  These swing states get visits from the candidates and get much more media attention.  Other small solid states such as my home of Vermont rarely see a candidate. The electoral college was originally established to preserve democracy by preventing majority tyranny over the minority.  The electoral college today results in a minority tyranny of swing states ruling over the majority of other states.  A popular vote would increase voter turnout and allow all citizens to have a say in an election.  Under a popular vote the election would be decided by all, not just a handful of swing states.  It is time for the electoral college to finally graduate and be abolished.

-Will Kunin


“Battle for the White House” Real Clear Politics October 23, 2012

Greenberg, Edward and Page, Benjamin “Chapter 10; Voting, Campaigns, and Elections” The Struggle for Democracy, 10th ed. 2011

Sherwood, I-Hsien “Latest Electoral College Polls and Map” Latinos Post



About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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