US election terms

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US election terms

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:15 pm

.. what pray tell is a battle ground state and similarly what is a swing state?? .. and are there any other kinds of states ?? .. and if Obama is elected how long do you think he will last before he is assassinated ??

WoZ in Aus
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Re: US election terms

Post by russcable » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:11 pm

A battleground is where a battle is fought. A swing goes back and forth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swing_state
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Re: US election terms

Post by hsargent » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:17 pm

A Battle Ground State is one which has historically changed from one party to another. I would say it is also a Swing State but there can be Swing States that could not be a Battle Ground. It also has to have enough Electoral vote to matter. For example Alaska only has one electoral votes so it could hardly be a Battle Ground. In fact, I don't believe there was any campaigning in Alaska or Hawaii.

Electoral votes (anticipating your question) is based on population. Most states also has all the electoral votes going to the winner of the state. As a result, the popular vote in the nation is not always the elected winner... example Kennedy.
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Re: US election terms

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:26 pm

"Battleground state", "swing state" and "purple state" are all terms for the same thing, namely a US state whose election outcome cannot be taken for granted by either side.

Voters in US presidential elections are technically casting their votes for their state's electoral college electors, who are in effect delegated to vote on behalf of the general election voters.

The electoral college votes are cast on a winner-takes-all basis, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, whose votes are cast according to a hybrid proportional/winner-takes-all system. See here for a map of the US showing the distribution of electoral college votes among the states.

As the map shows, Alaska has three, not one, electoral college votes. The nationwide allocation of electoral college electors is roughly, but by no means exactly, proportional to the population of the states.

(Each state is allocated as many electors as it has Representatives and Senators in the United States Congress; Washington, D.C. is allocated as many electors as if it were a state, but is allowed no more electors than the least populous state. The smallest states by population are somewhat overrepresented at the federal level, to make it harder for the largest and most populous states to steamroller the smaller states in the federal legislature and federal elections.)

A more recent, and more notorious, example than that of John Kennedy of a presidential election whose outcome did not correspond to the popular vote is the election of George W Bush in 2000.
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Re: US election terms

Post by JANE DOErell » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:38 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:"Battleground state", "swing state" and "purple state" are all terms for the same thing, namely a US state whose election outcome cannot be taken for granted by either side.
I would say that unless your are in the business of talking about politics Erik's statement covers it. I think that probably professionals need several terms to make their stories appear unique.
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Re: US election terms

Post by PhilHunt » Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:32 pm

Wouldn't a swing state be a state where the outcome could go either way, and a battleground state one in which the two candidates campaign hard to win the votes?

I guess the two terms talk about similar things but from different perspectives. This is just my analysis of the language as I know nothing about the electoral system in America.

My fingers are crossed for the ethnically diverse Hawaiian. :)
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Re: US election terms

Post by minjeff » Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:37 pm

I just skimmed the Wikipedia article, and admittedly I have been avoiding as much of the political media as I can while still being a responsible citizen. However, I have always been under the impression that a Battleground State is a state where the votes are close, regardless of which party the state tends to vote for. And, a Swing State is a state which could "predict" the election through the allocation of its electoral votes. For example, because Ohio (my home state) represents pretty much the overall make up of the country (urban areas lean Democrat and rural areas lean Republican; Ohio has 4 sizeable urban areas and otherwise is a fairly rural state). Along with this overall make-up Ohio has 20 electoral votes and usually a party needs to about 50(?) outside of their "strong" states to win the presidency.
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Re: US election terms

Post by PhilHunt » Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:06 pm

Thinking about it, I think minijeff has hit the nail on the head.
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Re: US election terms

Post by Shelley » Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:58 pm

I'm confused a bit about the meaning of "swing": is a Swing State one in which the final tally could go either way -- that is, Democrat or Republican? Or is a Swing State one that could decide the election based on its quantity of electoral votes? In other words:

1) The State of Bliss is a swing state -- it could swing both ways.
2) The State of Bliss is a swing state -- it could swing the election.

'Course, it don't mean a thing . . .
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Re: US election terms

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:30 pm

Shelley, a swing state must be one in which the final tally could go either way, because any and all states have a role in deciding the final outcome of a presidential election.

For instance, California (55 electoral college votes) or Texas (34) account for a substantial proportion of the total of 540 electoral college votes, and could therefore have a huge impact on the final outcome if their votes went against the historic pattern -- to use your term, such a switch would be likely to 'swing the election'.

However, because there is no realistic possibility that either of them will fail to vote Democratic (California) or Republican (Texas) in accordance with the results of previous similar elections or current opinion polls, they are not in fact regarded as swing states.
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Re: US election terms

Post by Shelley » Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:05 pm

The possibility that any state could be a swing state doesn't contradict my second interpretation of "swing" -- yes, I agree: any state could be a swing state. Isn't it possible that with the right (albeit unusual) distribution of electoral votes, even a sparsely populated state like Alaska could end up being a swing state?
I'm willing to concede that the accepted definition of swing state is one in which the tally could swing either to the left or right, but I'm not completely tossing out my alternative -- not yet, anyway.

By the way, WoZ: you really must bite your tongue and run around in a circle three times, stamp your foot and swear loudly to dispel the thought of anything so horrendous as -- well, what you said.
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Re: US election terms

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:03 am

.. thanks people I think I am a little clearer on the terms but it seems in the media they are used as two mutually exclusive terms .. I had thought you would be able to draw up a list of BG states and S states .. initially I thought that BG states had something to do with the American Civil War .. and Erik I love the image of a Purple State with lavender blooming all over ..

.. Shelley even after doing as you suggest I still can't pretend that my question is not valid .. racism has always been an integral part of US politics deeply interwoven within the cultural groupings that make up such a vast land .. it has already been a part of this election campaign .. assassination is part and parcel of political life in the US .. I hope Obama does win and goes on to be able to be his own man and change the direction of US politics but I do honestly fear for his life ..

WoZ looking up from Downunder 05/11/08
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Re: US election terms

Post by Tony Farg » Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:22 am

I just have to say "hooray" and this seemed the best place to do it.. Well done to all our cousins over there!
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Re: US election terms

Post by russcable » Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:26 pm

Wizard of Oz wrote:.. assassination is part and parcel of political life in the US ..
By that standard then, you won't mind a bit if I ask... "How long until Camilla is beheaded?" ;-)
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Re: US election terms

Post by hsargent » Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:40 pm

Well looking at the information last night on the net, I was wrong on the Battleground States. The ones listed include states with a minimum number of electoral votes. So it looks like Swing and Battleground may be the same. Newsfolks create these terms.

Now if we can ever have a non-racist election when 95% on one race does not feel duty bound to vote for one person because of their skin color.
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