Swing States and U.S Territories Impact on Elections


Samin Champion and Elena Marin

As the United States midterms approach, the spotlight continues to shine on the countries political behemoths like California and Texas, while swing states and U.S territories are seemingly uncovered.

A swing state is a U.S. state in which there is an equal amount of political divide between major parties causing shifts in political climate during elections.

The major swing states in the 2016 Presidential election were considered Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin as reported Politico, an American political journalism company.

Jennifer Maslar, DVCs special education and resource management teacher who use to live in Ohio stated, the notion that swing states “dictate politics worldwide” and are necessary to get the required amount of votes to win presidential elections.

In the U.S 2016 Presidential election, Trump won both Florida, which as the 3rd biggest state in the US has 29 electoral votes, and Ohio as the 7th biggest state has 18 which influenced the election greatly.

Swing states play an intricate part in all U.S. elections because of their unique political climate that fluctuates While other states like California or Texas historically are largely democratic or republican.

“California is very liberal, while Ohio is very conservative,” stated Maslar who then continued,”when I go back to Cleveland, it’s not unusual to see a Trump sign or flag in someone’s yard. In California, that’s unheard of.”

Maslar describes California’s political climate as “intense” and “strong-headed” in contrast to Ohio where she believes it’s easier to disagree with others and have debates.

With such close competition between swing states and as debates continue on, there is often a shift in political ideology as certain events happen throughout the world.

Due to strife involving economic and social instability following hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Florida finds itself with a large migrant demographic. This demographic shifts Florida’s political spectrum as more opinions are being added into the equation.

Adam Watson, one of DVCs 10th grade English teachers who use to live in North Carolina believes that Florida could transition to a democratic state if Latino voter turnout was increased.

Puerto Rico is one of the five inhabited United States territory along with American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands.

A public poll issued to Puerto Ricans in Florida and presented by Sun-Sentinel, a Florida newspaper publication showed that 57% of Puerto Ricans lean democratic, 7% lean Republican and the remaining 36% identify as non-partisan.

While the ideologies and political leanings of migrants from U.S territories affect elections and politics, the territories themselves do not.

U.S territory inhabitants are not allowed to vote in midterm or presidential elections, although territory born inhabitants excluding American Samoa are all given citizenship. This makes it possible for them to vote in these elections if they migrate to any of the states.

Along with restricted voting rights, these countries also have limited voice in Congress; the territories are allowed to send one elected non-voting house representative.

“Over 100,000 Puerto Ricans moved from Puerto Rico to Florida since 2016, and while its a territory and Puerto Rico doesn’t help elect our president or send voting representatives to Congress, Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” stated David Hadley, Former politician and representative of California’s 66th state assembly district. “So when you move from Puerto Rico to Florida you have voting rights right away.”

Hadley believes that this flux of population and wave of migration can greatly impact elections as states that are considered swing states or “balanced” will be influenced by the opinions that they bring with them.

As election day moves closer it becomes easier for people to isolate themselves in politics in the grand scheme government representation in the United States. But being aware of the social state of the world and Country and its implications it has on government policy is more prevalent now than ever.