Know Your Battleground States 9/9: Florida

Florida, the United States’ incredibly flat protrusion into the sub-tropics, is an enormous and rapidly changing state, perhaps about to overtake New York as the third most populous state in the Union, and by far the biggest of the battleground states with 29 Electoral Votes in play. Florida entered political legend when the 2000 Presidential contest in the state came down to just a few hundred votes out of more than 5.8 million cast. Weeks of scrutinising disputed ballots and … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 8/9: Ohio

Ohio’s flatland isn’t on many tourist itineraries, but it is unquestionably the heart of industrial America. Cris-crossed by major north-south and east-west freeways and freight railways, and with a major deepwater port at Cleveland, Ohio is within a day’s drive of 50% of North America’s population. Trucks depart from plants for all over the United States and Canada 24/7. Manufacturing still directly provides one Ohio job in eight, with yet more dependent on associated transportation and ancillary services, and along … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 7/9: Virginia

History meets the modern world in Virginia. In 1607, the London Company established the first English colony in the New World in what later became the Old Dominion. For many Virginians, celebrating their history is almost an obsession, and one entirely befitting the America’s mother state. Old things in Virginia look old, even to Europeans. Yet Virginia retains a cutting edge economy, and is home to many of the institutions through which the USA dominates the modern world, most notably … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 6/9: Colorado

Colorado was until very recently a very reliable Republican state in Presidential elections. Even in 1996, the worst Republican Presidential year since Barry Goldwater, Bob Dole won Colorado despite the presence of Ross Perot on the ballot. As with the other western battleground, Nevada, rapid population growth, particularly from Hispanics and West Coasters, has made the state competitive in a very short space of time. In particular, Colorado’s flourishing IT and electronics industies lured many young and well-educated Californians with … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 5/9: Wisconsin

Cheese, beer and beef are what Wisconsin is best known for in America. Milwaukee’s professional baseball team is named the Brewers. The dairy industry dominates Wisconsin’s landscape, with idyllic pastureland giving way in the north and west to rocky glacial hills, covered in forests, which resemble the middle Germany many Wisconsinites’ ancestors came from, and glacial lakes which resemble the Scandinavia of many others’. Wisconsin is a contradictory state – a European ethic of social solidarity and religious moderation sits … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 4/9: Iowa

Iowa’s role in the political process is firmly cemented by its first-in-the-nation role in choosing presidential candidates. In past decades, when Iowa was another reliably Republican plains state, that was the end of its serious role in the political process. Some are critical that an unrepresentative state, heavily white, heavily rural, with no major metropolitan areas, should play such a critical role in choosing presidents. Local political science professor Stephen G White says, “There are few minorities, no sizable cities, … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 3/9: North Carolina

North Carolina’s most important moment in world history was back in 1903 when the Wright Brothers achieved the first ever controlled, powered, flight by a heavier-than-air vehicle out on the strange barrier reef of islands known as the Outer Banks. The Tarheel State’s fascination with technology and transport continues to this day, in the world class universities of the Research Triangle and the NASCAR race tracks at Charlotte and Rockingham. North Carolina is an incredibly complex state. In the remoter … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 2/9: Nevada

Some American states are little known and less understood outside the country (think Nebraska). Some are iconic. Nevada is sort of iconic. The state’s reputation is largely driven by that bizarre shrine to gambling, money and decadence in the desert, Las Vegas. So are its elections. Just over two thirds of votes cast in the last presidential election were cast in Clark County, which covers Las Vegas and its satellite towns, such as gritty North Las Vegas, famously if unfairly … Read more

Know Your Battleground States 1/9: New Hampshire

New Hampshire, the smallest of the swing states with only 4 Electoral Votes at stake, is an odd candidate to be a battleground state. New Hampshire is relatively rich, overwhelmingly White and very pretty, with more than its fair share of whitewashed churches, traditional Main Streets and wooded valleys which look resplendent in the fall. Granite Staters are famed for a flinty, Yankee, libertarianism enshrined in the state’s official motto, “Live Free or Die” and the fact that the state … Read more