What is a "battleground state?"

A "Battleground State" is any state where the public opinion polls show that the state could vote for either candidate on election day. In this sense, the state could be called a "toss up." Most polls have a margin of error of about 4 points. If a candidate has a lead that is less than the margin of error, that state could vote the other way when the final tally is done on election night. Also, states that traditional vote for the candidate of one party but that polls show are leaning toward the candidate of the non-traditional party could also be considered a battleground state. In 2008, Virginia is a good example. The state has gone Republican in every election since 1964 (when it joined in the landslide against Barry Goldwater, keeping Lyndon Johnson in the White House after the assassination of John F. Kennedy). Polls show the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, leading by about 12 percentage points as the election comes to a close. Virginia is a battleground state in the 2008 presidential election.

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