Slate's interactive swing voter calculator.

A guide to the swing states.
Oct. 27 2008 3:40 PM

Are You a Swing Voter?

A Slate interactive calculator.

Read the rest of the Swingers series.

With the election just a week away, both campaigns are making their final arguments to voters. The details differ, but the basic message is the same: This election is all about you. Far be it from us to shatter anyone's illusions.

In reality, this election is not about just any old average voter anymore—if it ever was in the first place. As the clock ticks down, both the Obama and McCain campaigns are making a final push to win over a very small slice of remaining swing voters.

Advertisement

Which raises the question: Are you a swing voter? Being undecided is not enough, in itself, for membership. In fact, very few Americans, at this late hour, still qualify for the club. Think you have what it takes? Slate's handy Swing Voter Calculator can help you figure out whether you make the cut.

As Slate's John Dickerson wrote last month, the state you live in is by far the most important factor in whether the campaigns will give you any love. Your personal characteristics could make you the swingiest of swingers, based on opinion polls of people like you—but if you live in Alabama, you're simply not worth the campaigns' time at this late hour. That's the reality of the Electoral College system, and for that reason the calculator weighs your home state more heavily than anything else.

At the same time, not all swing voters are created equal. Florida may be close in the polls, but if you're a black woman with a postgraduate degree, you lose serious points on the swing scale. (Such voters tend to favor Obama by a wide margin.) Late in the game, it also matters whether there are a lot of people like you in your state, a figure represented by the blue meter at the top, which is set to a default of 33 percent—roughly the average value for the many different combinations of characteristics. The campaigns need to be as efficient as possible with only a few days left, and they don't have time to go after small pockets of swing voters that represent a fractional number of people in a given state. You gain points on this calculator if there are a lot of people who share your characteristics in your state, as displayed by the first meter.

Needless to say, this calculator is only an approximation of complex voting behavior, which can only partially be predicted by a person's age, education, race, and so forth. The application's behavior is based entirely on polls, with the needle moving left or right based on how closely each state and demographic is divided between Obama and McCain. With a week to go before the election, the needle had better be pretty far to the right if you hope to get any attention from the candidates.

Sources: Gallup, Pollster, RealClearPolitics, the Census Bureau, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Design by Natalie Matthews. Programming by Chris Wilson.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.