Competitive Presidential Election States: 2020 vs. 2016

December 21, 2020

Most competitive states in the 2020 presidential election, with a comparison to 2016.  The faithless electors in 2016 are ignored for this analysis.

Decided by 5% or less

Eight states were decided by 5% or less in the 2020 presidential election.  This is down from 11 states (and one congressional district) in this category in 2016. However, the net change was only a reduction of 10 electoral votes. Georgia (16 electoral votes) was the only state added to the list in 2020. It was the closest state in the country, decided by about 0.25%. The other four states flipped by Joe Biden: Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Arizona (11) and Wisconsin (10) were also decided by 5% or less in 2016.

Exiting this category were Minnesota (10), Colorado (9), New Hampshire (4), Maine at-large (2) and NE-2 (1).  All these states, except Colorado, were decided by between five and ten points (bottom map).  The Democratic margin of victory was 13.5% in Colorado vs. 4.9% in 2016. This 8.6% shift was the 2nd largest change in the country behind Vermont's 9.5%.

 
Decided by 5-10%
 
An additional 80 electoral votes from 6 states and two congressional districts fell into this category. These are shown in the lighter red/blue below. In addition to the four states and NE-2 mentioned above, this category includes Texas (38 electoral votes), Ohio (18), Iowa (6) and ME-2 (1).  The three states were in this category four years ago; ME-2 was decided by just over 10%. Also exiting this category were Virginia (13) and New Mexico (5).
 
Taken together, Joe Biden won by >10% margin in states worth 210 electoral votes. This compares to Hillary Clinton's 183 four years ago. The difference was Virginia (13), Colorado (9) and New Mexico (5). Donald Trump's 125 electoral votes in this category was only one different than 2016, as ME-2 (1) was closer.  These are reflected in the dark blue/red colors in the bottom map. 
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