The race for the presidency hinges on about a dozen swing states that could provide either Republican President Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden a path to victory.
The dozens of polls covering the swing states generally show Biden ahead in most. But many are close enough to say the race is still in flux as Election Day approaches.
Biden is clearly ahead in overall national polls and is expected to win the majority of votes. But as Americans know, it’s not taking the overall vote that matters, but the electoral votes that come with winning individual states.
Here’s a look at the swing states, polls and electoral combinations:
Pennsylvania: They call it the Keystone State and, like in 2016, it will play a key role in either candidate’s chances. Trump more so.
Heading into the final weekend of the campaign, Biden led in six of the eight most recent polls, according to Real Clear Politics — including a 5-point advantage in a Fox News poll. All surveys combined, Biden has roughly a 3.5-percentage-point lead.
But there are some important points to make about this swing state.
Because of pandemic-driven increase in absentee ballots, Pennsylvania is one that could show Trump ahead on election night, only to have Biden surge to the lead once mailed ballots are counted.
FiveThirtyEight.com has posited that Trump could lead Pennsylvania by as much as 16 points on election night, but the margin shifts 21 points in Biden’s favor once all votes are tallied — giving Biden a narrow win here.
Plus, Pennsylvania is one of the last states to begin counting absentee ballots. Whereas some states will have the bulk of their absentee ballots tabulated on Election Day or the day after, it could take days in the Keystone State.
Finally, forecasters have noted that Pennsylvania has been "under-polled," making it tougher to really see a consensus hardening.
Florida: It has 29 electoral votes and Trump’s win here in 2016 was essential to his victory. Right now, the dozen or so polls show Biden with a razor-thin margin — 1.2 points on average, according to Real Clear Politics.
FiveThirtyEight.com currently projects a 51-49 win for Biden.
Note, Trump came from behind to win here last time around. He almost must have Florida again to reach the 270 electoral votes to win the election.
Side note: Republicans have registered more new voters than Democrats here since 2016.
Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio: Trump’s wins in Wisconsin and Michigan in 2016 were viewed as his most surprising and key to crumbling the Democrats’ "Blue Wall" of Midwest states.
This time, however, polls show Trump trailing in each by wider margins than in ’16.
In Wisconsin, Biden is ahead by an average of about 6 points — though forecasters note this state is known as hard to poll. That’s why you see such fluctuations as the Susquehanna survey saying the race is tied to the ABC News/Washington Post survey saying Biden by 17.
Like it’s neighbor, Michigan shows Biden with an average 6-point lead. But unlike Wisconsin, Michigan polls don’t vary widely; it’s been much more consistent.
Ohio is in a dead heat. Like with Florida, Trump won here in ’16 and almost has to have it again to win this time.
Georgia, North Carolina: These traditionally have voted Republican but are viewed now as toss-up states. Both are considered dead heats. The forecasts have changed more for Georgia than any other state. In September, it was considered solidly Trump.
Iowa, Minnesota: Though not as crucial as Wisconsin and Michigan, these states will play a role.
The Iowa poll average shows Biden with a 1-point lead. But some forecasters still believe the state will back Trump again.
Biden has a 5-point lead in Minnesota, a margin that’s grown slightly and held since September.
Nevada, Arizona, Texas: In the West and Southwest, Democrats are hoping a younger and more Latino electorate can turn the election in their favor.
Nevada has become a more reliable Democratic supporter; currently, Biden leads it by an average of 4 points.
Texas hasn’t been traditionally competitive, but Trump’s lead there is just over 2 points.
Arizona, like Georgia, has seen a shift toward Biden since summer. Trump won Arizona by 4 in 2016; currently, it’s a dead heat.
The split-vote states: Nebraska and Maine aren’t winner-take-all states. Rather, each congressional district has an electoral vote. And if it comes down to it, the 2nd Congressional District of Maine and 2nd C.D. of Nebraska could cast deciding votes. Trump won both in ’16; both fall into the tossup category now.