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Friday, November 4, 2011

Introducing Our New Swing States Tracking

Today we released the first story from our new "Swing States Tracking" -- a collaborative effort between Gallup and USA Today. We're taking advantage of the huge sample sizes enabled by our Gallup Daily tracking to report at least monthly, from now until the election, specifically on the views and preferences of registered voters within 12 key swing states.

Here's the big 12: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In her analysis for USA Today, Susan Page describes how the states were selected:

"The states were chosen based on their voting histories, the results of the 2010 midterm elections and demographic trends. In the nation's unique voting system for president -- in which the outcome is based on the Electoral College rather than the popular vote -- the combined findings provide a snapshot of the election's direction. Other states and the District of Columbia clearly lean to one party or the other, and almost equally so: Obama starts with a likely 196 electoral votes from solidly Democratic states, the Republican nominee with 191. A candidate needs 270 to win the White House. Those calculations spotlight the dozen states in the middle that will command a disproportionate share of candidates' time, TV ads and grassroots organizing by campaigns and advocacy groups, trying to energize partisans and appeal to independents."

To be clear, we aren't reporting results for each state, but rather for the 12 states as a whole. As of now, swing state voters look similar to national voters in terms of whom they prefer in different general election scenarios, reflecting the fact that swing states are, by definition, the most balanced or “average” states in the union -- which is why they are so important in an election. But if the swing state voters begin to tip in either party’s favor, it will put that party in strong position to win the election.  To the extent the swing state voters remain divided in their preferences, it suggests the election will be highly competitive.  

Our continued "Swing States Tracking" will monitor how President Obama and the Republican candidates' campaigns play out in these crucial states as the next year unfolds. As Gallup's Jeffery M. Jones notes in his analysis,"with so much attention likely to be concentrated on voters in these 12 key swing states, they may be more susceptible to influence from the campaigns than voters in other states."

In addition to overall election preferences, we'll also monitor swing state voters’ views of the economy and other top issues. Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport reports on those attitudes in our second story in the series, which we'll release this afternoon.

To make sure you get every new story as soon as it is published, sign up to receive Gallup news alerts.

You can also monitor all of our coverage on the election on our Election 2012 page.

Daily tracking of the election is coming soon. Keep an eye on this blog or follow @gallupqueue on Twitter to be among the first to know!


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