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COLORADO FLORIDA IOWA MICHIGAN NEVADA NEW HAMPSHIRE NORTH CAROLINA OHIO PENNSYLVANIA VIRGINIA WISCONSIN

COLORADO

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

Fine. But Colorado wins elections. It’s the state that put President Obama over the 270 mark in the electoral college in 2012 – and in 2008. So, it matters.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That CO voters are anti-establishment. They voted for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) in the state’s caucuses. And they’ve been giving the cold mountain shoulder to both Trump and Hillz. This fall, it looked like Trump might have the edge. Now, not so much. Clinton is up by more than 5%.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Gun Control…as in the mass shooting at an Aurora, CO movie theater in 2012 put this issue front and center. The State’s Dems responded with strong gun control laws. But backlash around the state – especially in rural areas where guns are popular – led to the recall of some state senators. Messages, mixed.

Immigration…as in CO has a large and growing Hispanic population – and many of them have family members who are undocumented immigrants. So they’re watching both candidates and their policies on this closely.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

Colorado has been a so-called ‘tipping point state’ in the last three elections. It’s one of a handful that can make or break an election.

FLORIDA

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

Flo-rida’s been known to make or break elections (hellooo hanging chads). Candidates say every voter is special – but in FL, they really, really (really) mean it.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That it’s not all about Don and Hillz. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – who didn’t make the cut for prez – is running for re-election. It’s a key race, with the GOP looking to stay in control of the Senate. So far, so good for Rubio.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Climate change...as in it’s getting hot in here and FL beaches are starting to sweat. Miami has already spent hundreds of millions to raise roads and build seawalls – and the state’s economy depends on keeping its beach game 100.

Education…as in FL voters are giving the side-eye to Common Core (hint: reading and math standards for each grade level). Some say these standards should come from the local level. Others say all the testing that comes with it is taking away from real learning. Everyone wants to know what the candidates have to say. Here’s your Skimm. Gun control…as in the worst mass shooting in US history happened in Orlando, FL earlier this year. The gunman was self-radicalized and pledged allegiance to ISIS. FL is typically a gun-friendly state, but many voters have reform on the mind.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

FL’s got the most electoral votes of any swinger state. So it’s the top prize.

IOWA

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

You ‘know’ the presidential candidates from seeing them all over your news feed. Iowans are on a first name basis with them. There’s a reason for that.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Iowa’s gone blue in six of the last seven presidential elections. But now, it’s one of the few swing states that seems ready to vote Trump. That’s because Iowa voters are highly sensitive to things like an economic downturn that could make them flip their vote right away. Speaking of...

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

The Economy…as in it’s been a rough few decades for IA farmers. The state’s since built up other industries to fill the corny hole in it’s heart, but voters are still watching what the candidates have to say about things like jobs and trade.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

The Iowa caucuses are where 2016 really kicked off. And it’s one of the few swing states that’s ready to pull the lever for GOP nominee Donald Trump.

MICHIGAN

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

Michigan’s been feeling blue for a while – but earlier this year it looked like the state could be ready to change its stripes. Not anymore.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Dems have always felt safe in Michigan. But it’s got a lot of working class voters – many of them white – who’ve been on the struggle bus and looking for a change. For a while, they responded to GOP nominee Donald Trump’s anti-establishment message. Now, it’s looking like Clinton could beat him there by more than 10%. Unclear what turned the tide...but some Trump campaign speed bumps (women accusing him of sexual assault, fighting with the Muslim parents of a fallen US soldier) prob didn’t help.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

The Economy...as in Michigan’s had a bumpy road since President Obama moved to bail out the auto-industry in ‘09. And since Detroit said ‘we’re broke’ in ‘13. Michigan’s a blue collar state that’s going to vote for the candidate it thinks has the economic and trade policies to keep their jobs at home.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

Michigan has voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1992. If Trump were to flip the state, that would be yuuuuge.

NEVADA

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

What happens in Nevada doesn’t stay in Nevada. Not only is it a swinger, it’s also a mystery how it’ll vote – reliable polling is very hard to come by.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That this is one of the most diverse states in the country. That could mean a thumbs up for Dem candidate Hillary Clinton, who’s got a lot of minority support in her corner. NV’s also got a small but very involved group of Mormons that typically have the GOP’s back (hint: $$$). But they’ve never really jumped in for Trump, and that could be the difference between whether the state goes red or blue.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Immigration…as in NV Mormons are none-too-pleased with The Donald’s proposal to practice ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants from countries with a history of terrorism. That’s because Mormons a religious minority, and know a thing or two about discrimination.

The Economy...as in lots of people in the state are in the service industry because viva las Vegas. So jobs – and the candidates’ plans to boost wages for middle class workers – are a big factor.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

Bet on Nevada to pick the next prez. The state’s voted for the eventual presidential winner in the last 25 of 28 elections.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

New Hampshire is surrounded by baby blues, but the Granite State has a serious independent streak.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That the state has just four votes in the electoral college, but presidential candidates still make it a major focus. That’s because the math usually comes down to a few votes here and there – and NH tends to be very much in play. Even though Dems have won five out of the last six presidential elections, it’s always this-close. But this time around, it’s looking like Hillz has a comfortable lead.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Gun control...as in NH leaders are divided. Guns are popular there, especially in the rural parts of the state. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) – who’s fighting in her own race to keep her seat – has said she’d ban people on the no-fly list from getting guns, but wouldn’t expand background checks. The state’s Dem gov. – who’s running against her – says that’s “not nearly enough.”

Drug reform...as in this state’s got a problem. Heroin and painkiller abuse is a huge public health issue there. Dem nominee Hillary Clinton has called for $10 billion to help prevent drug abuse and treatment. And Granite State voters are all ears.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

New Hampshire was solid red until 1992 when Bill Clinton eeked out a win and dubbed himself ‘The Comeback Kid.’ Ever since, the Clinton’s have had a thing for this state. But GOP nominee Donald Trump won NH bigly back in the primaries – and Hillz came up way short of Bernie. Even though she’s got the lead now, NH could always change its mind.

NORTH CAROLINA

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

North Carolina picked President Obama in ‘08 by less than 1% – and Romney in ‘12 by just 2%. So every vote literally counts.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That NC is one of a few swing states that GOP nominee Donald Trump is spending a LOT of time and cash money on winning. Dem nominee Hillary Clinton is ahead, but only by a liiiiiittle bit.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Education...as in the state’s gone through a lot of change in the last few years. The GOP gov. there expanded charter schools and voucher programs, and invested more dollars on Teach for America. Public school teachers do not approve – and they’ve been protesting for better pay and funding for their kids ever since. So the candidates’ positions on ed reform, and Common Core, will be under the microscope.

The Economy...as in there’s been a lot of talk about who can pee where...and it’s hitting NC’s wallet. Earlier this year, NC passed a law requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate. The state’s aimed to be a place for tech co’s and startups – and they are NOT pleased. Many are thinking of pulling business out of the state, leaving NC divided on what to do.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

The real drama for NC in 2016 isn’t just about Hillz and The Donald. Earlier this year, the state’s strict voter ID law was struck down by the Supreme Court. Now, election officials are worried the changes could confuse voters, and possibly hurt turnout.

OHIO

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

If you had to bet on who’d win in November, hang out in Ohio first. The state’s voted for the winner every year since 1964.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That if the US held up a mirror to itself, it would look like OH. It’s a diverse state that closely reps the population breakdown of the country in religion, race, age, etc. That’s why when the US is divided politically (hint: now), so is OH.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

The Economy…as in OH is all about that work, work, work, work. The state’s got a blue collar streak, with many jobs connected to the auto and steel industries. Dem nom Hillary Clinton has been cozying up to the state’s labor unions, while GOP nom Donald Trump has been promo’ing his policies to bring jobs back home to the US.

Trade…as in there’s a lot of anxiety in OH about globalization, and how President Obama’s proposed trade deal with Pacific rim countries could affect them. Both candidates will be saying ’no-bama’ and promising not to let the trade deal pass.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

You might hear “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” That’s especially true for Republicans. No GOP prez has ever been elected without winning Ohio.

PENNSYLVANIA

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

Politics nerds used to think Pennsylvania’s the state that could decide this whole race. Now…not so much.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

GOP nominee Donald Trump has focused on winning the ‘rust belt’ states. Rust belt: areas with mostly white, blue-collar voters where the steel industry has gone from boom to rust. That includes PA. But things like allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump have hurt his chances. Meanwhile, Dem nominee Hillary Clinton’s got a home field advantage – grandparents are from PA, and she spent a lot of time there growing up...

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Jobs...as in there are a lot of unemployed former steel workers in PA – and people worried the manufacturing jobs that still exist will be gone in a few years. So, they’re super sensitive to any trade deals that could take their work overseas.

Gun control...as in PA loves that Second Amendment. TBD on whether they’ll agree with Hillz that there needs to be more gun control – or whether they’ll side with Trump that US gun laws aren’t broke, so don’t fix them.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

Trump has made a real push in PA, and it was looking like a close one earlier this year. Now, this rust belt state has gone a little salty on him. TBD on whether the Donald can turn things around.

VIRGINIA

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

Virginia was always a GOP state. Until President Obama won it over. Now, everyone’s wondering if VA’s lost that lovin’ blue feeling and ready to go red again.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That VA isn’t as worried about the economy as the rest of the country. That’s partly thanks to the fact that it can see Washington, DC from its backyard – and a lot of federal $$$ comes into the state.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Voting rights…as in VA’s got hundreds of thousands of felons who, until this year, couldn’t vote. Earlier this year, the state’s Dem Gov. gave back voting rights to convicted felons who’ve done the time. Clinton’s got a lot of support among black Americans – and almost half of the felons who were affected by this move are black. Cue legal pushback from the GOP, which is saying ‘hi, politics.’ The gov’s move was overturned...but he’s try, trying again to get it done.

Foreign policy…as in VA’s got a lot of men and women in uniform. VA’s where the Pentagon calls home. So decisions like whether to send US troops to fight ISIS really hit home here.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

VA looks like it’s still a blue state. It’s Gov. and both US senators are Dems – including Sen. Tim Kaine who’s Clinton’s Veep pick. But the GOP dominates in the House of Reps. So it might be more competitive than it looks.

WISCONSIN

DON’T LIVE THERE, DON’T CARE.

Wisconsin’s been a part of what the Dems call their “Blue wall” for decades. But its recent red streak has everybody going ‘hmmm.’

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

That the who’s-who of the GOP establishment is from there. Think: House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus, and WI Gov. Scott Walker. But Walker, who ran for prez himself, has said he’s “anti-Trump.” Ryan has called GOP nominee Donald Trump’s comments “racist.” And after a 2005 video surfaced of Trump seemingly bragging about sexual assault, Ryan said ‘yeahhh, not gonna campaign for you anymore.’ So The Donald’s not exactly winning with Wisconsin’s GOP

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

Union rights…as in WI unions mean business. You may remember the state’s capitol looking like this back in 2011 after Gov. Walker tried to change collective bargaining laws (hint: the ability for unions to negotiate things like pay). Dem nom Hillary Clinton will be showing love to the unions, while Trump will be pushing his policies to bring jobs back to the US.

Immigration…as in voters in the Big Cheesy are also deciding whether to re-elect Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), or give former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) his old job back. And voters in WI are hugely divided on whether to focus on securing the border first, like Johnson wants, or focus on policy reform first, like Feingold wants. This happens to be the same debate that Trump and Hillz are having.

GIMME SOMETHING TO SAY.

WI is all about that base. Winning here will depend on who can fire up their core voters the most.

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