Press Release: We Know 35 States That Will Not be 2016 Swing States

Released November 7, 2012


Contact: Andie Levien  Phone: (301) 270-4616

Effect on turnout of being "spectator state" in 2012

FairVote: the Center for Voting and Democracy, a Maryland based nonprofit analyzing elections and advocating for electoral reform, has issued a series of analyses of presidential elections that started with its 2005 report explaining the sharp decline in competitive presidential "battlegrounds" over the past three decades.

"The 2012 elections underscored the static nature of our presidential elections," said FairVote's executive director Rob Richie. "This year only 12 states received even a single visit from a major party candidate for president or vice-president after the party conventions. We expect very few changes in the 2016 elections."

Looking at the underlying "partisanship" of states based on the 2012 returns to date, FairVote estimates that only 16 states fall within a potentially competitive partisanship band of 45% to 55% in 2016.  Those 16 states are dominated by the relatively few states that were considered potential battlegrounds in recent presidential elections.

FairVote also analyzed voter turnout patterns in the 2012 elections. Based on its projections of ballots remaining to be counted, it believes as many as 133 million votes may be cast in this election. This number would provide an overall turnout of eligible voters of 61.3%. Our preliminary analysis also found that:


* Turnout in the 12 states with at least one candidate campaign event after the Democratic National Convention: 66.8%

* Turnout in remaining 39 spectator states (including DC): 58.7% 

* Turning in safely Republican spectator states: 56.7%

* Turnout in safely Democratic spectator states: 61.4%


FairVote's presidential tracker summarizes its tally of all campaign events  involving major party candidates since the conventions. The 12 states that hosted at least one campaign event are all among potential battlegrounds in 2016. The four additional potential -- if unlikely -- 2016 battleground states are Oregon, New Mexico, Georgia and Washington.

Finally, FairVote's partisanship analysis underscores how the current Electoral College system can have a slight partisan bias in any given election -- with this election being slightly titled toward Democrats -- but has no intrinsic bias, including looking to 2016. It recently simulated national popular vote ties to see which party would have benefited from the system in each election over the past half-century.

"The only bias," said FairVote's executive director Rob Richie, "is against the two-thirds of states that are stuck in long-term spectator status. They won't be polled. They won't have presidential campaigns seeking votes there. They are simply ignored for the purposes of presidential elections. It's time for a level playing field and one-person, one-vote elections through adoption of the National Popular Vote plan for president."

The National Popular Vote plan is a state-based reform developed by National Popular Vote. It is grounded in the states' power under the Constitution to award their electors in a manner of their choosing. It would guarantee the election of the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Enacted into law in states with a total of 132 electoral votes, it will govern the next election if passed by states with a total of 270 or more electoral votes, a controlling majority of the Electoral College.

For more information, contact Andie Levien at alevien[at] or (301) 270--4616.