Swing voters, not swing states, will decide presidential election

Large portions of the electorate have their minds made up by now, but the swing voter will sway which way the election falls. Graphic by Emileé Edwards | Photographer

By Camille Rasor | Arts & Life Editor

It’s less than two weeks until Election Day, and with early voting already started in most states, the window is closing quickly for both Donald Trump and Joe Biden to win over undecided voters.

Though Biden is up in many polls nationwide, it is clear from the 2016 election that the Electoral College math can still go either way. Swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania are still very much in play. However, Baylor political science professor Dr. David Bridge said that it is important to remember that not all residents of swing states are undecided voters.

“We confuse swing states with swing voters, so in a place like Ohio, that’s a swing state. It could go for Trump. It could go for Biden,” Bridge said. “And so when you think that voters in Ohio are largely undecided, and they’re not. There’s a lot of partisans. There’s a lot who know they’re voting for Biden, and there’s a lot who know that they’re voting for Trump. And there’s a very small minority who is undecided, and I think that’s the case nationwide.”

However, it is certainly true that not all voters are staunch partisans. Lubbock senior Corryn Sloan said she is still undecided, though she takes her right to vote seriously.

“Both candidates have things that I disagree with, and so it’s hard to reconcile that with my vote,” Sloan said. “I know that voting is a privilege, so I want to exercise that right, but it’s also hard one way or another, to say ‘Yes I’m a Christian, and yes I’m exercising my right to vote, and I can stand with this person with confidence.’ I still just have reservations with both candidates.”

Sloan said she has been watching the presidential debates and has been keeping up with the news on her social media apps in order to help her decide which candidate she will vote for.

“I think the debates were very helpful, especially the debate between the vice presidential candidates, but also just conversations with people that I trust in my community,” Sloan said about what has been helpful for her when considering Trump and Biden.

Bridge said that other tried-and-true techniques are also proven to help get voters to commit to voting for one candidate over another.

“Volunteering at the local level really matters, and the data shows there’s nothing that gets people to show up to vote like knocking on their front door and asking them if they’ve voted yet,” Bridge said. “That’s so much more effective than stuff you get in the mail or text messages or emails.”

With Election Day so close, another big part of winning the election is increasing voter turnout. Bridge said he thinks that at this point in the election, encouraging voters who have already decided who they would vote for to get out and go to the polls may be more important than focusing efforts on undecided voters.

“It’s a matter of framing, so if Biden can frame the election around the pandemic or if Trump can frame the election around the economy, I think that helps the respective campaigns,” Bridge said. “For decided voters who are unlikely to show up to vote, early voting helps a lot.”