US election will be won in the battleground states

Map showing the battleground states in the US Election, who have the power to swing the election
Map showing the battleground states in the US Election, who have the power to swing the election Photo: ITV News

The majority of states in America have an historical allegiance to a particular party and the presidential candidates will rely upon their continued support in this year's election.

But this leaves a minority of states which remain undecided: the battleground states which have the power to decide the next President of the United States of America.

The battleground states for the 2012 election are:

Ohio: 18 electoral college votes

Bill Turque of the Washington Post says: "The race comes down to a few crucial battleground states, none more important than Ohio."

And his statement is supported by history - Ohio has not backed a losing presidential candidate since 1960 and no Republican in the modern era has been elected to office without winning the state. Obama won the state in 2008 but Republicans won the governorship and the Senate seat here in 2010, leaving it all to play for in 2012.

Mitt Romney carries a child after speaking at a campaign rally outside the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Credit: Reuters

Virginia: 13 electoral college votes

Virginia is one of the most strongly contested swing states in the election. In the past forty years, Virginians have voted for only one Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama.

Education is a top political issue in the state, with Democrats livid over Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to divert $110 million in state sales tax revenues away from public schools to use in road maintenance. Unemployment and poverty rates in this state are low.

Florida, 29 electoral college votes

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**Florida has voted for the winner of the presidential election in every contest since 1996. Democratic presidential candidates have won in Florida only three times in 40 years: Barack Obama in 2008, Bill Clinton in 1996 and Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The state is currently experiencing the America's fourth highest unemployment rate, thus the economy and jobs are paramount concerns in the Sunshine State.

President Obama shakes hands after holding a round table discussion with first time voters at OMG Burger in Miami. Credit: Reuters

Iowa: 6 electoral college votes

This swing state favours both parties, with those living in the open farmland favouring the Republicans and those in the cities leaning towards the Democrats.

The stability of Social Security and Medicare programmes are important issues in Iowa because voters over the age of 65 represent 14.9% of all Iowa residents, the nation's 5th highest state percentage.

Mitt Romney holds a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: Reuters

Colorado: 9 electoral votes

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**The New York Times reports President Obama's victory in Colorado was among his most prized accomplishments in 2008, after the state had voted reliably Republican in eight of the last nine presidential elections.

But the state is by no means safe for Democrats, as the Republicans demonstrated in 2010 by picking up two House seats. Reform of US immigration regulations is a top concern for the state's expanding Hispanic population. Also, pro-environmental protection and conservation stances are always important and popular in Colorado, which is home to 18 national parks.

New Hampshire: 4 electoral votes

MSNBC reports that although the state only has four electoral votes, it is thought these votes could decide the 2012 presidential election. In 2008 President Obama won the state by almost 10 points but only eight years earlier George W Bush won here in 2000, and in the 2010 midterms the Republicans took a Senate seat and both congressional districts.

New Hampshire has a below average unemployment rate at 5.7%, something that could factor favourably for the president. The new job figures are due to be released ahead of November 6, which could swing support either way.

Wisconsin: 10 electoral votes

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**The Democrats have won Wisconsin in every presidential election since 1988, but the Republicans lost out by a whisker in 2000 and 2004, and won the governorship and a Senate seat in 2010.

And with vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan coming from the state, the electoral votes are all to play for.