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What are battleground states and why do they matter?

President Donald Trump enters the final six weeks of the election season as the underdog as Joe Biden maintains his edge both nationally and in many of the critical battleground states that will determine the outcome. Map: CNN

The 2020 presidential election between Democrat Joe Biden and incumbent Republican Donald Trump will be decided by which candidate wins the 270 electoral votes needed to reach the White House. Both candidates are focusing their campaigns on the battleground states.

Candidates tend to prioritize battleground states because of the Electoral College. To win the presidency, a candidate must obtain at least 270 of the 538 available electoral votes. In other words, the popular vote is less important to the big picture than a candidate’s ability to capture electoral votes. You can read more about the Electoral College here

Battleground states, explained

The term battleground state or swing state refers to any state that could be won by either major-party presidential candidate — Democratic or Republican — by a swing in votes.

These battleground states are usually targeted by both major-party campaigns, especially in competitive elections.

The eight battleground states in the 2020 campaign are identified as:

  1. Arizona
  2. Florida
  3. Georgia
  4. Michigan
  5. Minnesota
  6. North Carolina
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Wisconsin

Identification of a battleground state is based on factors such as:

  • polling
  • demography
  • election history
  • voter registration
  • information from state and local party officials, strategists and pollsters

Why is KSL NewsRadio covering this?

This story is part of a series explaining the process behind elections in the United States and Utah. We wanted to answer commonly asked questions about the process.

Where did the idea come from?

It came from you! Listeners like you text, email or message us regularly with questions just like this one that sometimes become stories.

How did KSL report the story?

Just like you, when we need to answer tough questions, we perform searches -- sometimes using the library, sometimes online. We also consult with experts in the appropriate field to answer our questions. We then double-checked the information we found for accuracy and bias. In this case, we are also relying on the Associated Press's definition of what a battleground state is.

I have an idea for a future in-depth report. How do I tell you about it?

We would love to hear your ideas. You can email our team at radionews@ksl.com. If you are hoping to reach a specific member of our team, you can also contact them directly through our bios, here.