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The impact of swing states on the presidential election

Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the 2020 presidential election and the impact that the swing states may have on the results.

Video Transcript

RICK NEWMAN: Right, but, you know, there are demographic changes. People move around. You know, some populations get older, some get younger. And then it depends on what are the top issues to people.

So Arizona, you just mentioned. It used to be pretty reliably red. It is a swing state for sure this year. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to think Joe Biden could win that state. Florida is obviously one everybody's going to be looking at, probably one of the most difficult states to predict.

And there are some polls saying Biden has a lead beyond the margin of error in Florida. But other polls say it's very close. So these are the things we're going to be looking at. Just to kind of give you-- give people an update on where things stand, we're starting to get some final forecast today from some of the outfits that do these types of predictions.

The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, they're a well regarded forecaster. Their final forecast is Joe Biden is going to win, with 321 electoral votes to 217 electoral votes for Donald Trump. That'll be a pretty convincing win.

Now that doesn't mean we're going to know the results tomorrow night or even Wednesday morning. But that gives you some idea of how the dice seem to be falling one day before election day.

ZACK GUZMAN: And Rick, I mean, obviously, Florida does always get a lot of the attention here, but it's not the only key swing state that's going to be important on election night. A lot of those, they usually do, polling very closely right now. Which ones do you have your eyes on for being the key determinant of who's going to win?

RICK NEWMAN: It really goes back to Florida for a couple of reasons. First of all, Florida reports pretty quickly. So we're going to have a pretty clear idea of trends in Florida. Maybe not an outcome, but a pretty good idea of which way it's heading. Pennsylvania is the one many forecasters say is the tipping point state this time around. That's the state that can get one candidate or the other to 270 electoral votes.

Ohio used to be considered the national bellwether. As went Ohio, so went the nation, but that does not seem to be the case so much anymore. It has turned a little bit red. And it looks like Trump probably will win there by maybe three percentage points.

And then when you go to upper Midwest, it would take a real surprise bigger than in 2016 for those states to break for Trump this time around. It does look like Michigan and Wisconsin very important states, along with Minnesota. It looks like Joe Biden does have enough of a lead there that he's probably going to nail those.

And then one other one, Iowa, a few weeks back, it looked like Iowa, which was also usually red, was possibly in reach for Joe Biden. But now it looks like it's breaking for Trump by just a few percentage points late in the action here. We can talk about Texas if you want, but Texas is going to be a little closer than has before, but probably will still go to Trump.

AKIKO FUJITA: Rick, can we talk about the timing of the results here? Because there are already reports out there, I think Axios yesterday reporting how the Trump campaign could potentially try to declare victory in a state like Pennsylvania, where the mail-in ballots aren't actually going to be even counted until the polls close. I mean, what should our viewers be expecting in terms of how these results will start to come in, particularly those states that have a lot of mail-in ballots to count?

ZACK GUZMAN: I think anybody who cares about the outcome of this election needs to be prepared for this to be contentious, starting when the first poll closes tomorrow. Pennsylvania counts slowly, and it does have a large portion of mail-in ballots that are going to take time to count.

So what a lot of the forecasters might be telling us tomorrow night is they can look at the turn-- you know, the numbers they have for certain counties and compare that to 2016, and say, well, this might represent that. Let's, for example, say Biden is polling about four points ahead of Trump because of how he's shown up in these four counties where we can count the votes.

But nobody should think that a trend on election night that doesn't have a declared winner is going to be the outcome. Because there are differences in who votes early, who votes late. In Pennsylvania, if it's closed, we will not know the outcome there for a few days at least. If Pennsylvania is not closed, it's possible that the Associated Press and the other organizations that make these calls-- that's not the official call, but those-- you know, they try to tell people what's going on.

It's possible they could say we're comfortable enough that one candidate or the other is far enough ahead that we can say that that person likely won-- probably not going to be the case in Pennsylvania.