Inspired by this 2012 article in the NY Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, I used Nate Silver’s tipping point methodology to identify key swing states in the last presidential election.
The outcome of a presidential election depends on each of the states that together cast a combined total of 270 or more electoral votes for a candidate. But, only in some states is the race close enough to actually be considered competitive and not predetermined based on ingrained party loyalty. In addition, thanks to the electoral college, some states are given more weight than others.
The basic gist is that the “tipping point” state, the one that cast the 270th electoral college vote, is the
Why is this relevant?
It seems to me that identifying this “tipping point” state and, let’s say, ten of its nearest neighbors (based on margin of victory and electoral votes) is a way to identify battleground states for the next election.
This attempt at playing political moneyball, of course, carries with it all sorts of assumptions. One of the biggest is using the past to predict the future. Another is looking at a single presidential election and making broad generalizations. We are assuming stable demographics. We are assuming more of the same, politically speaking, by disregarding the possibility of an inspiring candidate who can transcend partisan divisions or one who can grow the electorate.
To get started, I gathered the following data: