The words "swing-states" or "battleground-states" or "purple states" have been thrown around a lot, but one has to ask, what are these swing states anyway? Currently, there are 39 states, which are considered safe for either party, with 16 "safe" states plus the District of Columbia for the Democrats, and 23 "safe" states for the Republicans. With only those counted, Obama holds a 201 to 191 electoral vote lead with 146 electoral votes still up for grabs. This leaves Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin still up for grabs.
New Hampshire has the fewest electoral votes at stake with four. According to Real Clear Politics, Obama holds a 2% advantage in the state according to pre-polling data. Nevada and Iowa each have six electoral votes at stake with Obama holding a 2.8% and 2.4% lead respectively in the pre-election polls. Colorado follows with nine electoral votes and Obama holds a 1.5% lead there in the pre-election polls. The state of Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes at stake with Obama holding a 4.2% lead in the pre-election polls.
The stakes begin to get higher as the second half of the "swing-states" feature far more electoral votes. Virginia has 13 electoral votes at stake and pre-election polling shows Obama with a narrow 0.3% advantage. North Carolina has 15 electoral votes at stake and is the first state listed with Romney showing an advantage in pre-election polling as he holds a 3.0% lead. In Michigan, a state that Mitt Romney's father George was Governor of, President Obama holds a 4.0% lead according to pre-election polling numbers. Michigan holds 16 crucial electoral votes.
Ohio comes next and is widely considered the tipping point of this election. With 18 electoral votes at stake and a history of voting for both parties, Ohio could determine this year's election. According to pre-election polls, Obama holds a 2.9% lead in what could be the decisive state. Pennsylvania follows with 20 electoral votes, and despite very strong initial polling data for Obama, his lead has shrunken from 12% in September to 3.8% now; both Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have made a large number of trips to Pennsylvania in addition to immense amounts of money spent on advertising in an effort to take the 20 electoral votes at stake. Florida is the eleventh and final swing state and holds 29 electoral votes. A state whose politics have been defined by the 2000 election and the ensuing controversy, Florida will be an important state to watch this evening as Romney holds a 1.5% lead in the final pre-election polling.
If all of those polls held true, Obama would win tonight's election 303 to 235; however, the only important thing is that people actually get out and vote. Many of these polls are conducted with likely voters; however, between the hurricane and weather conditions across the country, voter turnout will play an important factor in deciding who wins in each of these 11 states.