Swing states: Why these 7 states could decide the 2024 presidential election

For many U.S. states that consistently vote red or blue in presidential elections, the outcome is no surprise. But for some states, the electoral votes remain very much up for grabs. 

The 2024 presidential election – a rematch of President Joe Biden vs. former President Donald Trump – there are seven states expected to be political battlegrounds with their outcomes too close to predict.

It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House, and these swing states have a collective 93 votes that could ultimately decide who will take the White House. 

Here are the key battleground states to pay attention to as voters head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024:

What’s a swing state, again?

A "swing state" in U.S. presidential elections is a state that could "swing" to either Democratic or Republican candidates. This means such candidates often make frequent campaign visits and spend a considerable amount of time and resources in an effort to win there. 

Such states tend to be predictors of the overall presidential winner – such as Florida, which famously became the deciding state in the 2000 election between Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Vice President Al Gore.

Several other states have also been reliable indicators of overall results, according to USAFacts, a nonprofit site sharing easy-to-read government data.

Since 2000, five states — Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia — have matched the eventual winner in all but one presidential election, USAFacts said.

Previous swing states leaning red in 2024

The U.S. states given "swing" status have also changed over time. Florida and Ohio, for example, both appear to be moving "stage right" in 2024 after being battlegrounds in the past. 

"Both Ohio and Florida seem likely Republican this time around," said Prof. Aubrey Jewett, a University of Central Florida political science professor.

"Florida seems to have surged strong Republican in the past four years re-electing Republican Governor DeSantis by almost 20 points (after winning his first term by less than 1%) and seeing Republicans take a lead in voter registration of more than 900,000 after being behind by 100,000 about 3 years ago," Jewett added.

Meanwhile, Ohio voted for Trump in 2020 by 8 points, so it "seems likely to vote for him again," Jewett said.

No states seemed to have moved from competitive status to left-leaning or Democratic, Jewett noted.

What are the 2024 swing states?

Here are the seven swing states to watch in the 2024 presidential election. 

Arizona (Electoral votes: 11)

Arizona has long been considered reliably red and has almost exclusively chosen Republicans in presidential elections. 

But the state is transforming rapidly and increasingly becoming a battleground state ahead of the 2024 election, according to experts.

Many point to Biden’s 2020 win as a key indicator of the state’s "purple" status. Despite its narrow margin, Biden won the state by 0.3%, and his 49.4% support was the highest level for a Democratic candidate since 1964.

"Arizona is absolutely, fully purple," David Byler, elections data expert and chief of research at Noble Predictive Insights told FOX Television Stations. "It's one of the most –  if not the most – purple states on the map." 

READ MORE: Top issues for Arizona voters in the 2024 presidential election

Georgia (Electoral votes: 16)

Georgia has been a fairly-reliable Republican state during each presidential election cycle in recent history, but 2020 showed the state can swing from red to blue – when Biden won by a very slim margin of 12,670 votes, or 0.25% of the roughly 5 million ballots cast. 

Before that, the Peach State hadn’t voted for a Democratic president since Bill Clinton in 1992.

There are a plethora of issues at the top of Georgians’ minds ahead of November, but none more so than inflation, according to experts. 

"For two years, (inflation) has been very consistently at the top of Georgians’ minds," explained Brian Robinson, former spokesperson for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and president of Robinson Republica Communications.  

"It is something that is driving a lot of the movement away from Biden and including from many of those people who voted for him in 2020, a sense that their lives aren't as good as they were four years ago, pre-COVID, that things are tight and and the incumbent gets the blame for that," Robinson added.

READ MORE: Top issues for Georgia voters in the 2024 presidential election

Michigan (Electoral votes: 15)

Michigan's status as a pivotal swing state in 2024 stems from its recent electoral history and the intense focus it receives from presidential candidates, experts say. 

The state has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold, supporting blue candidates from 1992 to 2012. 

However, it surprised many by flipping to Trump in 2016 – marking the first time a Republican presidential candidate carried the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Trump's success in the Wolverine State was driven by his appeal to White working-class voters, particularly in rural areas and former industrial hubs. 

His promises to revive manufacturing jobs and renegotiate trade deals resonated deeply in a state historically reliant on the auto industry. His unorthodox campaign style and ability to connect with voters who felt disillusioned by traditional politics also played a crucial role. 

Michigan's surprising flip in 2016 underscored its status as a key battleground state, making it a focal point for both parties in subsequent elections.

READ MORE: Top issues for Michigan voters in the 2024 presidential election

Nevada (Electoral votes: 6)

Nevada only has six electoral college votes, but the state is still considered an important swing state leading into the 2024 election – likely coming down to Republicans’ and Democrats’ abilities to mobilize voters.

"We are the perfect puzzle piece to fit in given where we think these other swing states might land, and we can have a decisive difference," University of Nevada Las Vegas associate professor Rebecca Gill told FOX Television Stations. 

"One of the reasons Nevada tends to be so important is that we have close margins in terms of Republicans and Democrats performing in these statewide elections and a lot of it depends on each camp's ability to determine who comes out to vote, so it’s really a mobilization game," Gill added.

Particularly, turnout among younger voters in the Silver State will be critical.

"There’s a lot of buzz right now about young voters being disaffected with Biden, particularly with issues related to (the Israel-Hamas conflict)," Gill explained, noting how the topic has been focused on frequently by the news media. 

"If you look at the young voters, the things that they are concerned about… they can’t afford to buy a house, they might have trouble even affording their rent, so economics are a big issue," she said. 

READ MORE: Top issues for Nevada voters in the 2024 presidential election

North Carolina (Electoral votes: 16)

Political insiders believe the race between Biden and Trump is going to be extremely close in North Carolina, a state "that's almost always extraordinarily close," according to UNC-Chapel Hill Political Science Professor Marc Hetherington.

"It's odd if the presidential election comes out with one candidate winning by more than 3% of the vote, 3.5% of the vote," Hetherington told FOX Television Stations. 

The candidate who wins the Tar Heel state will be the one who’s able to deliver clear messages on issues that matter to the people – including abortion, immigration, and the economy. 

"If you take a look at the numbers, the percentage of people in North Carolina who say jobs in the economy are the most important thing to them, that's the winner by far," Hetherington explained. "That's what everybody agrees on whether they're Republicans or Democrats about what's important." 

READ MORE: Top issues for North Carolina voters in the 2024 presidential election

Pennsylvania (Electoral votes: 19)

Of all the battleground states in 2024, Pennsylvania has the most electoral votes up for grabs.

Trump took the state by a razor-thin, 0.5% margin in 2016, and Biden edged out a win over Trump in 2020 by a little more than a 1% margin. If the election were held today, political observers in the Keystone State say it’s hard to predict who would come out on top. 

"When you look at the key swing states in this particular election cycle, Pennsylvania stands out," Christopher Borick, a political science professor and director of Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, told FOX Television Stations. 

There are few places in the country as evenly-divided as Pennsylvania, too. The state House, which has 203 members, has a one-member Democratic majority. And in the state Senate, Republicans have a hold there by only three members. 

"It's an incredibly divided state, which reflects what Pennsylvania is," Borick explained. "It has a very large urban area in the southeast, around Philadelphia, also a fairly mid-sized urban area in the Pittsburgh area out west. But it also has one of the largest rural populations in the entire United States."

And like many states, inflation/the economy, reproductive rights and border security are at the top of voters’ minds. 

READ MORE: Top issues for Pennsylvania voters in the 2024 presidential election

Wisconsin (Electoral votes: 10)

In Wisconsin, four of the past six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point – earning the state a reputation for turning out extremely close margins. 

Trump broke the so-called "blue wall" and won Wisconsin in 2016, the first time a Republican presidential candidate had done so since President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

"It's one of just a handful of states that has been won by Trump in 2016 and lost in 2020," explained Julia Azari, a political science professor at Marquette University. "And historically, it's been just a very competitive state."

Wisconsin’s local elections in 2022, which include re-electing a Republican senator and Democratic governor, reinforced how much of a toss-up the vote can be, experts say.

READ MORE: Top issues for Wisconsin voters in the 2024 presidential election

What other states could be competitive in 2024? 

Republicans also have some hopes that Trump may be competitive in Virginia and Minnesota

Minnesota hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since 1972, while Virginia last voted red in the presidential election in 2004. 

"Early polling in both states suggest it is close, but recent history suggests Democrats should win those two states," Jewett noted.

"Virginia did vote for a Republican governor in 2021, although Democrats did better in the 2023 legislative elections," Jewett told FOX Television Stations. 

"Republicans also think they may have a chance in New Jersey, although that seems less likely than Virginia to me."

This story was reported from Cincinnati.