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Swing states: Key areas to watch in the 2020 presidential election

Here are how swing states have voted in the past and what it means for the upcoming election.

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Several polling places could have a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential election.

But what’s a swing state and what can happen? Here’s a review of how key areas have voted and what it all means.

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Dictionaries define the term as an area that has similar levels of support for each political party’s candidate that could have a key role in the outcome of the presidential race.

A study last year calculated what states are considered true swing states, based on factors that include how likely they are to pick the winner. Our list includes those (Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania), except for Colorado — which several news outlets no longer consider a swing state — along with other states included in multiple rankings.

Every vote matters, and these states and others all play a role in the 270 electoral votes (a majority of the 538 possible electoral votes) that a candidate needs to win the election.

Arizona

The state’s electoral votes went to Republican candidates during the last four elections. The state currently has 11 electoral votes, which have increased over the last two decades.

Florida

The state’s 29 electoral votes went to Republican Donald Trump in 2016 and Democrat Barack Obama in 2012. Its 27 electoral votes went to Obama in 2008. Republican George W. Bush received its 27 votes in 2004 as well as its 25 votes in 2000.

Iowa

The state’s six electoral votes went to Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. The state’s seven electoral votes in preceding elections went to Obama in 2008, Bush in 2004 and Democrat Al Gore in 2000.

Maine 2nd District

The 2nd Congressional District’s one electoral vote in the state went to Trump in 2016, departing from the rest of the state’s three electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton. The 2nd District was consistent with the rest of the state in awarding electoral votes to Obama in 2012 as well as 2008, Democrat John Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000.

Michigan

The state’s 16 electoral votes went to Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. Its 17 electoral votes went to Obama in 2008 and Kerry in 2004. Its 18 electoral votes went to Gore in 2000.

Minnesota

The state’s 10 electoral votes went to Clinton in 2016 and Obama in 2012 as well as 2008. Its votes went to Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000.

Nebraska 2nd District

The 2nd Congressional District’s electoral vote, consistent with the rest of the state, went to Trump in 2016, Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. In 2008, it split with the rest of Nebraska, going with Obama. It went to Bush in 2004 and 2000.

Nevada

The state’s six electoral votes went to Clinton in 2016 and Obama in 2012. Its five electoral votes went to Obama in 2008 and Bush in 2004. Its four electoral votes went to Bush in 2000.

New Hampshire

The state’s four electoral votes went to Clinton in 2016, Obama in 2012 as well as 2008, Kerry in 2004 and Bush in 2000.

North Carolina

The state’s 15 electoral votes went to Trump in 2016, Romney in 2012, Obama in 2008 and Bush in 2004. Its 14 electoral votes went to Bush in 2000.

Ohio

The state’s 18 electoral votes went to Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. Its 20 electoral votes went to Obama in 2008 and Bush in 2004. Its 21 electoral votes went to Bush in 2000.

Pennsylvania

The state’s 20 electoral votes went to Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. Its 21 electoral votes went to Obama in 2008 and Kerry in 2004. Its 23 electoral votes went to Gore in 2000.

Wisconsin

The state’s 10 electoral votes went to Trump in 2016, Obama in 2012 as well as 2008 and Kerry in 2004. Its 11 electoral votes went to Gore in 2000.

Two states, Nebraska and Maine, divide up their electoral votes — instead of awarding them to a candidate in a winner-take-all format — and multiple news outlets are noting each has a voting district that could potentially influence the election.

Experts are also noting that other key areas to watch also include Georgia and Texas, which have both chosen GOP presidential candidates since 1996 and 1980, respectively.

Technically, electoral votes go to both candidates on a party’s platform, choosing both the president and vice president.

The changes come as candidates this year have tried to navigate campaigning amid a pandemic that has at times kept them away from voters and left them to resort to virtual and online outreaches, and a surge in voting in advance by mail could also have effects on turnout at the polls.