It isn’t really surprising that there are widely varying theories for the best way to win the battleground states – those considered neither firmly Democratic nor Republican – in the Nov. 6 election. After all, if they were easy to win, they wouldn’t be battlegrounds.
But what is surprising is the extent of the disagreement over which should be defined as battlegrounds – or swing states, toss-ups or “purple” (as in something between Republican red and Democratic blue).
A new study by the University of Minnesota found that news outlets that publish election maps vary widely in their assessments of which states are up for grabs in 2012.
Using data collected on August 2, researchers looked at the electoral projection maps of 12 news outlets and found the number of states deemed toss-ups ranged from a low of three – the Huffington Post’s Florida, North Carolina and Virginia – to a high of 16 at the National Journal, which puts Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin in the purple column.
Residents of battleground states can expect to have a busy autumn. Their telephones will ring with political surveys, push polls and election-related announcements. Their radio and television programs will overflow with advertisements. Their mailboxes and online accounts (Facebook ads, anyone?) will bulge with messages, and pleas for money, from candidates, committees and political parties. And their doorbells will very likely ring with visits from what both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s teams promise will be “armies” of volunteers espousing candidates and causes.