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Study Notes

Swing Voter

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

A swing voter is a voter who does not have a strong party affiliation, and someone who will change their vote in each election.

Swing voters in the United States, are actively courted by political parties as they are the ones who will change the electoral outcome in the swing states. Political parties will throw a huge amount of money in persuading these swing voters to vote for them. The Washington Post has a brilliant graphic showing the advertising buy for 2012 from both Republicans and Democrats. Note how the ad buys are mainly focused on the swing states identified in that study note

However it is often difficult to predict how swing voters will vote as any number of factors could influence their decision. In the US the groups most thought of to be swing voters are conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. These two groups were identified as Reagan Democrats and Clinton Conservatives who swapped their votes during the respective presidencies. Swing Voters are becoming increasingly common in US elections, especially around young people who perhaps have never voted before.

However, swing voters can be particularly damaging to Presidential campaigns, especially if they are disillusioned with the two party system that exists. If this is the case, swing voters will not vote for the opposing party, but often decide to vote for a third party candidate in elections instead.

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