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Biden vs. Trump: 6% of Americans in these states will decide who wins

The giant Biden-Trump election will likely be decided by about 6% of voters in just six states, top strategists from both parties tell us.

Each side will spend billions to reach these voters over the next six months.

Why it matters: Nearly 244 million Americans will be eligible to vote. But 99.5% of us will not decide: we will not vote. Or we always vote the same way. Or that we live in states that are almost certainly red or blue.

Zoom in: Both campaigns are obsessed with six states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

These are the battlegrounds contested by Donald Trump after the 2020 election, according to rankings by the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.

The seventh state, North Carolina, has been included in some swing state polls. It is rated “Lean R” by Cook. The other 43 states are either “strong” or “potential” for a party.

Reality check: In our private conversations, Democrats were more concerned about November than Republicans. Democrats believe the race is winnable. The Republicans think they are winning. The swing state map is a big reason why.

An April Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll of swing states showed President Biden with a 2-point lead in Michigan, while Trump led or tied statistically in every other swing state.

Trump led by a significant six points in the seven states included in the poll. (The margin of error was one point. The poll did not include independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)

Between the lines: The Trump campaign appeals to the top 6% of voters when it attacks immigration, crime and inflation.

Biden aims for 6% as he emphasizes abortion, democracy and stability - and says in response to Trump's promises for a second term: "Do you want to go back on all that? I don't think so ."

By the numbers: Biden's total margin of victory in the six battleground states in 2020 was just over 300,000 votes out of 158 million votes cast for the president nationally.

The Washington Post found that the winner would have changed by overturning just over 81,000 votes in four states (Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin and Georgia).

Zoom out: We perked up our ears when we heard a Biden insider use the formula "6% in six states" as an indicator of how restrictive a group of voters is actually considered to be in play - swing voters in swing states.

Republicans are making similar calculations. A Trump insider told us that the percentage of voters who can be convinced is less than 10% in each battleground: "I think it's probably 6% in Wisconsin, but 8% in Michigan and less in Arizona. »

The big picture: Doug Sosnick, a senior adviser to President Clinton who is closely following the election, tells us the map is so narrow in large part because states are tightly grouped by education level, making them red or blue as expected.

“Education now surpasses race as the best indicator of voting,” he told us. “People are increasingly choosing to live with others who share their values and beliefs, which has led to a homogenization of how societies vote. »

Sosnick says Trump — who won in 2016 by fighting battles in the Midwest with a high percentage of voters without college degrees — was a big beneficiary of this kind of big deal.

“Trump has reached this line that he’s been building for 15 years,” Sosnick told us. “This realignment around education, with Republicans co-opting working-class voters, first appeared in the 1992 election: Pat Buchanan challenged President George H.W. Bush for the Republican Party nomination, and Ross Perot's third-party candidacy received nearly 20 million votes. »

What we're watching: At the Republican National Committee's spring meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., this weekend, the Trump campaign showed donors a presentation claiming that Minnesota and Virginia — which Biden easily won in 2020 – belong to the American ticket. . Country in game.

A senior Democratic strategist called it gerrymandering. “MN is to them what FL is to us,” the strategist wrote. “Attractive but impossible to win.”

Bottom line: Trump must choose one of the Midwest Blue Wall states he lost in 2020 (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania).

According to the rules of he current election votes in Nebraska and Maine, if Biden gets the blue wall, he will win, notes Alex Thompson of Axios.

Many strategists in both parties believe Pennsylvania and its 19 electoral votes could become the deciding state.

Dig deeper: Sosnick's 2023 memo on education as the new fault line in American politics.

Coming soon from Axios: a multi-part tour of the unique political, economic, and social circumstances of each battleground state, with support from local Axios journalists.


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