U.S. President Joe Biden with UAW president Shawn Fain as the presidetnt speaks to members of the United Auto Workers

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) at the UAW National Training Center, in Warren, Michigan, on February 1, 2024.

(Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Less Than 100,000 Swing-State Voters Could Decide the 2024 Election

Hang on, folks. It's going to be a bumpy and unpleasant ride.

Although between 125 million and 150 million voters will probably cast ballots nationally in the 2024 presidential election, the winner will likely be decided by only about 100,000 voters in a handful of states.

In 2020, Biden won the majority of the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes. But if you put those votes under a magnifying glass, Biden only won the electoral vote by an aggregate of 42,918 votes in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. If slightly more than 21,000 voters in those three states had chosen Trump instead of Biden, or slightly more than 42,000 Biden voters in those three states just stayed home, Trump would have won the electoral vote and would have legally become president for a second term.

Similarly, in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the majority of the national popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Nonetheless, Trump won the electoral collega vote 306-227. Trump only won the electoral vote by an aggregate of 77,744 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If slightly more than 38,000 voters in those three states had chosen Clinton instead of Trump or slightly more than 77,000 Trump voters in those three states had stayed home, Clinton, not Trump, would have been elected president in 2016.

In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by over half a million votes nationally but lost the election to George W. Bush by a mere 537 votes in Florida after a Republican-majority Supreme Court ordered a recount halted, handing the presidency to Bush (and after Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida.)

To summarize, since the year 2000, Democrats have won the popular vote 5 out of 6 presidential elections but Republicans have won the Presidency by carrying the electoral vote 3 of those times.

If polls taken ten months before an election are to be taken seriously, there’s a strong chance that Biden will win a majority of the popular vote and Trump will win the electoral vote and legitimately retake the presidency in November. A recent poll by Stack Data Strategy predicts that Biden would win the popular vote again by nearly 2 million votes, but that Trump would win the electoral vote 292-246 by winning four states that were decided by the closest margins in 2020—Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Similarly, the New York Times/Siena poll finds that Trump would closely win five of the six most important battleground states which Biden won in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

However, it wouldn’t take much to change between now and November for Biden instead of Trump to win the electoral college and be reelected if only a few tens of thousands of voters change their minds in a handful of swing states.

The strength of Biden’s and Trump’s ground game in the swing states could make a significant difference since, given how close the swing states are, turnout for the respective candidates could be determinative.

Also, although the economy is doing relatively well, a majority of voters currently disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. But The Wall Street Journaljust reported that consumer sentiment rose by a record 29% since November. If, over the next 10 months, this convinces a few tens of thousands of voters in the key swing states to vote for Biden instead of sitting home or voting for Trump, the electoral vote majority could shift to Biden. On the other hand, Biden’s support for Israel's brutal assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could cause enough Muslim voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where they are plentiful, to sit out the presidential election or vote third party in enough numbers to shift the electoral votes of these key swing states to Trump which could get him close to a national electoral vote majority.

Significantly, recent polls show that if Trump is convicted of a crime before the election, he is likely to lose his current slim lead. A recent Wall Street Journal poll shows a 5-point swing from Trump to Biden if Trump is convicted. The Times/Siena poll indicating Trump winning in 5 of the 6 key swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin shows Biden winning all 6 of these swing states if Trump is convicted, with 6% of voters switching from Trump to Biden. If true, a Trump conviction could make a Biden victory probable.

As in 2000, the outcome of the 2024 presidential election could effectively be determined by the Supreme Court, which will likely hear an appeal concerning Trump’s contention that presidents are immune from criminal prosecution. While even this conservative Supreme Court may well rule that presidents are not immune and Trump can stand trial, the question is whether the appeals process will be concluded in time for a trial to be completed and a verdict rendered before November.

Get ready for a bumpy ride over the next nine months. And keep your eye on six states.

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