What are Swing states and why they matter

The presidential election results are determined by the Electoral College. The constitution allows each state to decide how its Electoral College votes will be distributed. All states, except Maine and Nebraska, use a winner-take-all approach. That means, if a Candidate wins California, he will have all 55 of California's Electoral College Votes. When candidates begin looking at how many voters in each state support them or oppose them, they can safely assume that certain states are going to vote for them. Swing states are the states in the middle, where neither Republicans nor Democrats have a clear majority. Those state's votes matter the most to presidential candidates because winning the voters in the swing states could secure them them a victory.

You may have heard the use of the colors, red, blue, and purple to denote states' leanings. A red state is is safely Republican, a blue state is a safe Democrat state, and a purple state is a swing state. This election, we are not only going to elect a president, but also ensure that the Democrats represent the majority in the US Senate and down ballot races.

Many claim that electoral college system isn’t fair. Many people who live in “safe” states feel disenfranchised because they feel their votes do not matter. Because candidates focus so heavily on swing states, voters in safe states feel that their issues are ignored and their votes are taken for granted by the two major political parties. Lastly, because Democratic candidates have in the past conceded some states long before the elections, those states would have little money or political presence by the Democratic party; in essence, the red states would perpetually stay red because the Democrats stopped reaching out the the electorate in those states. To address this problem, we are going beyond the presidential candidates and organizing down ballot races.

In the throws of the presidential campaign however, candidates have to pay attention to the swing states so they can strategically use their resources and staff. The reason swing states matter to us as activists is because if we live in a safe state, our volunteer time could probably better be used in swing states. How can you do this? It is best to make sure your efforts are in line with other organizations so we can maximize our impact by organizing votes, volunteer and financial support. In addition, it is important to build alliances with other minority communities to build even more impact.

Swing states are mostly defined where an election was decided by less than three percentage points. Muslims being at least 1.5% of the population can easily help swing a state if they are organized to vote and can help other minorities register and mobilize to vote. In tight elections, like this year, minority votes can have exceptional importance. The case in point is Bush victory from Florida. Whereas the media failed to recognize, the 2000 election were given to Bush by Muslim votes. He won by 537 votes in Florida where about 80% of the 200,000 Muslims voted for Bush.

Volunteer today for a swing state.


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