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Face it: most of us live in what are effectively spectator states. The tyranny of an arcane Electoral College is why. A handful of states will determine the next President of the United States, and factors at play in each of them are largely why you and I have been subjected to the excruciatingly annoying and relentlessly unsubstantial antics of the past year and a half. Let's unscrew the inscrutable and see where votes by some of our fellow Americans will have disproportionately and sufficiently weighted impacts. Then we'll know whom to blame.

swing states

Swinging a Swing State: What Will Finally Determine This Election—Larry Wines

Swing States Confront the American Myth

We're way past kissing babies when you have pneumonia. We're looking at swinging doors on saloons with tables covered in poker chips and hombres who, at long last, still might not countenance tinhorns.

First, there's a reason why this whole phenomenon of "swing states" exists in the first place. Contrary to our vaunted notions of "one person, one vote," it's never been that way. If you live in California, the most populous state, you have the collective clout of the largest single number of Electoral College votes, but the value of your vote as an individual is a fraction of that of a resident of Wyoming. Plus, in solidly blue California, even a narrow margin of victory for a Democrat totally disenfranchises all those who vote for anyone else, obviously beginning with Republican voters. It's the same thing in reverse if you vote for a Democratic presidential candidate in a red state. One person, one vote? It's not just a fairy tale, it's a demonstrable lie.

Not that everyone wants to keep it the way it is. Just two years ago, a plan to scrap the Electoral College attained 61% of the states needed for approval. To happen, 2/3 are required to enact the necessary Constitutional amendment. It could still happen in time for the 2020 presidential election.

The Electoral College: Final Vestige of Slavery

In fact, this crazy, blatantly undemocratic Electoral College that really picks the President is the last vestige of slavery. yes, slavery, whose protection was institutionalized and layered through the Constitution. The Civil War Amendments may have banned involuntary servitude and given us the basis for modern civil rights expansion, but those amendments—and nothing subsequent to them—undid the structural basis of protecting the will of a small population of oligarchs from being disempowered by the disenfranchised masses. It works a little differently, but it's still there.

Each state, then as now, has a number of electors equal to its two US Senators plus the size of its delegation in the House of Representatives. In the early republic, most Southern states had slave populations that greatly exceeded the number of whites. Counting slaves outright risked acknowledgment of personhood, but not counting them would keep Southern states at a huge disadvantage in Congress.

So a key factor in ratification of the Constitution was the infamous "3/5 of a human being" provision to enumerate slaves with wink and a nod and increase the state's population for the purpose of determining its number of Congressional Representatives. And, every four years, the number of its Electoral College votes. That's how we get to 538, and 270 electoral votes as the needed majority to elect a president. And if the Electoral College cannot produce 270 votes for one ticket, it goes to the House of Representatives where the US population gets ignored all over again, as each state gets a single vote to pick a president.

All Politics ARE Local

That's how we get swing states. It's why giant California is an ATM for candidates of both major parties, with no need to actually campaign here after the primary. It's why meticulously planned barnstorming of little New Hampshire and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Broward County Florida and white suburban Pittsburgh, and the entirety of North Carolina—county-by-county, mountain holler to college campus to agricultural Piedmont to channel port, and eating Wisconsin cheese, and praising Georgia peaches and pecans and knowing to pronounce them as "peee-CANS"—are all important.

Thus, it's that county, not this one. Take Hillsborough County, Florida, home of Tampa, which has accurately predicted the outcome of 19 of the last 20 presidential elections. GW Bush and Barack Obama each won twice here. But now its Latino vote isn't Cuban. It's diversely Latino and appreciably Mexican, and things might be different. Dismiss that county? Not in Florida. Can't afford to. And we won't. We'll get to Florida. It's already an example of this much: the whole structure, and what the professional political class has done with it, is rife with contradictions. In a sense, only an election determined in the House would truly be a national election.

We're way past kissing babies when you have pneumonia. We're looking at swinging doors on saloons with tables covered in poker chips and hombres who, at long last, still might not countenance tinhorns.

Everyone has some notion about North Carolina and Florida. We'll get to them. We're going other places first because those two are not the be-all and end-all of understanding the dynamics of swing states.


Surprised? Some factors, assumed settled, may not have played out. Donald Trump is campaigning in Minnesota, blue since '76. It went for Nixon in the 49 state landslide of 1972, a year and half before he resigned when facing impeachment. But in 2016, even that doesn't seem so incongruous anymore. In Minnesota the day before the election, Team Trump is looking at numbers. They effectively indicate Garrison Keillor's fabled no-nonsense Prairie Home Lutherans may not be buying whatever Hillary's dragging around under that designer mumu.

A state where the mosquito is jokingly called the state bird, and a Zika epidemic's terrifying microcephalic birth defects can only be handled by aggressive government spending to develop and disperse a vaccine? Yet, a mosquito-ridden state maybe going for a wild-eyed populist maverick who promises to cut taxes and reduce spending and the role of government? A blue state that famously elected and re-elected an ex-professional wrestler named Jesse Ventura as its independent governor, and a Saturday Night Live comedian named Al Franken as one of its US senators? Minnesota, a swing state? Maybe. They do enjoy voting for entertaining populists more than they like to be harangued with ideology, and they, more than any other voters, do not respond to fear and breathless panic. So, the polls be damned: it's a swing state, based on its own record of eschewing of conventional politics.

Situational Ethics as a Swing Factor

For all the mud that's been thrown in the air, it's difficult to know which slings and arrows of outrageous fortune have inflicted bleeding with stains that don't come out in the wash. Bear with me, because reality warrants this.

The two overly intrusive, overfunded, won't shut-up big party's campaigns have been oblivious to civilian casualties. They have figuratively discharging their catapults with bushel baskets with maddeningly parsed equivocations or barbarously nocturnal tweets, in constant barrages. Each campaign's operatives throw everything at the other's camp in ill-advised alienations. Granted, on the surface, nothing about them seems particularly aimed at any given swing state. Voters everywhere are beyond caring which deplorables are in which baskets of rude, crude, slimy, sleazy or truly toxic unwelcome fallout.

It all seems part of the endless Clinton-Trump Clump, and most of it lands with yet another dull thud. Yet some of the specific content has played decisively, either to particular advantage or definite detriment, in some decisive places.

For example, conventional wisdom suggests that mortifying the sensibilities of an evangelical is a bad idea. It should drive his or her vote away from any candidate that fails a contrived holier-than-thou morality test. Of course, many states, even beyond the Bible Belt, have sizable voting populations who self-identify as evangelicals. Take the South off the table, as Bernie backers tried to tell the Democratic Party when Hillary won those primaries, because the Solid South is solid red, period, every November. Make the obligatory pronouncement about being Born Again, and God being a Republican, as Pat Robertson declared during his GOP run, and you're good to go down South. Demanding truly moral behavior is not sufficient to cleave anything Southern off into swing state status.


Still, evangelicals are at play in some states. Characteristic of these is Iowa. Over the weekend, Team Clinton cancelled a planned Monday barnstorm by President Obama, seeing numbers that had put Iowa out of reach and safely in the Trump column. And let's face it, Iowa is weird and should not be the bellwether of every presidential cycle in caucuses, yet, not even real elections. There's Republican US Sen. Chuck Grassley and his notions of health care bringing death panels for grandma. And there's former Gov. Tom Vilsack, the Democrat who kept corporate big ag happy as Obama's Secretary of Agriculture.

So, swing state Iowa, now looking mighty red: is it your idealized image of the independent -minded agrarian who stood against the Dust Bowl (with the help of FDR's Soil Conservation Service), or a latter-day manifestation of Ralph Waldo Emerson's embattled farmer (who enjoys federal corn subsidies), who now seeks to elect a populist go-to-hell maverick? You people don't particularly make sense, starting with your caucuses held in rooms with no air conditioning where participants swelter in mid-winter and are packed-in like sardines in absolute violation of your fire codes.

Indie/Red? Utah's Migration in the Polls

Similar to the evangelical factor is the Mormon vote, a culture imbued with its "Family Home Evening" values. That's the key factor in play in Utah, where, for a time, independent ex-Gopper Evan McMullin, a Mormon, looked able to win that state's electoral votes based on an old fashioned roundup of the Mormon vote. The state's Republican faithful saw it as a night right rustling, and quickly got national Republican help before McMullin could ride off with Butch Cassidy.

He has looked appreciably strong in neighboring Idaho, too. The reasoning followed that taking the two states' electoral votes off the table might cause circumvention of the electoral college, but we're past that, now. Mitt Romney could have been decisive in that, but he sat on his hands. That's uncharacteristic, given that Mormons are among the most reliable of voters, and their effectiveness when in office is always high-profile. Consider Utah's 3rd district Congressman Jason Chaffetz, elected in 2008 and already chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and frequently on TV sparring with prominent Democrats. And there are the roles played by Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall from Utah (JFK and LBJ administrations) and his brother, long-serving Arizona congressman Mo Udall. Both Udalls were proto-champions of the environment, proving that pigeon holing any group leads to some very bad assumptions.

While neither shunned nor embraced, McMullin's presence on the ballot could still determine the outcome in Utah, if he splits the vote with Trump and causes a surprise win by Hillary. But pollsters don't talk about that, because no place has been redder that Utah.

A Vested Interest in the Status Quo

In the end, only McMullin, a candidate most Americans still don't know, has any shot at capturing electoral votes as a third party candidate. Many of us have hoped, throughout this Kafkaesque election, that the abundance, indeed, never ending, disgraceful antics would sew the seeds for strong third party movements to emerge. But even with the two most reviled major party candidates in history, the structure proved to be—here it comes—rigged. The Commission on Presidential Debates is a wholly-owned property of the National Democratic and Republican Parties, and it is intended to assure no room at the inn for anyone else. Corporate mainstream media has collectively proved to be toadies of the same hegemonistic duopoly, granting less total coverage to Jill Stein and Gary Johnson combined than the amount of coverage given to either Trump or Clinton on any single day—even a day when nothing in particular was happening with either major party campaign.

Despite the disaffected legions of Bernie supporters who vowed never to vote for Hillary or Trump, no measurable statistical move to Jill Stein has been evident. Which seems curiouser and curiouser to those of us who monitor Bernie backers who have voted or will vote Green. Did a margin of difference arrive with the fear-based message of President Obama, Michele Obama and Vice President Biden, and the excruciatingly humiliating condescendence of Bernie himself, that "a protest vote... is a vote for Trump"-? Even at the last minute, polls in every swing state show the combined support for Greens and Libertarians as a number greater than the margin of difference between the Republican's non-conservative Red candidate and the Democrat's non-progressive Blue candidate.

Nothing has dissuaded the H-arrow's constant breathless begging for evermore money (that has made her campaign the best funded in world political history) and its use of that money to, in part, dispatch pummeling emails and social media browbeatings, strongarmings, and to engage in cyber bullying. It seems impossibly naive that anyone could believe there are any remaining independents or third party devotees would will embrace her now, if they haven't already caved to the hot lamps and rubber gloves.

Understanding how and why those techniques came into play becomes much easier when you discover that the vast majority of Hillary campaign operatives are not traditional community volunteers, but paid union operatives. Union organizing tactics, the kind used in the face of oppression by employers resolved to keep organizers out, are much of what we have seen in locally designed campaign game plans. The levels of enthusiasm for support for the "I'm with Her" banner have been starkly underwhelming. Unions can encourage rank and file members to attend, but that's outside their work hours. Everybody has responsibilities, stuff to do. When you're paid to work a campaign, to sit in a local headquarters (where "Help wanted" and "Volunteers Wanted" signs have been ubiquitous, even in blue state California), that's one thing. But volunteer, outside that?

Winning Battles, Losing Wars

There are two parts to this. One is the dynamic of voters for the future, even as soon as the winning candidate's prospects for congressional midterms and a second term. The other is the especially critical role of swing states in delivering a congress of the same party to the person elected president.

The most crucial role of swing states, beyond choosing the next president the rest of us must tolerate, is whether those states send a congress of the same or the opposing party. There are models for each. When a candidate enjoys particular approval, voters are more likely to empower a legislature that will enact the president's or the governor's agenda. But this one is especially complicated.

Congressional districts are more gerrymandered than ever, except in a few places where voters—as in California—or courts, in a few specific instances, have acted to produce fairly-drawn districts. The result is, of course, that nearly everyone comes from a "safe" district, where neither tsunami nor hurricane can dislodge the occupant from the seat. But... The only thing more disapproved than the two major party candidates is Congress. Even the traditional old, "They're awful, but my guy is good" doesn't apply with the old consistency. An outgrowth of the Berniecrat campaign is the "Brand New Congress" organization and movement, while Trump decries the entire system as rigged, with the swamp in need of draining.

The Hillary machine, after working the early cycles to vacuum up all the cash for her candidacy and leave local candidates high and dry, was forced to invest in congressional and senatorial races after the conventions. It's easy to dismiss this as, "she doesn't want to face the same gridlock that President Obama faced from a Republican congress." But it's far more serious. A Republican congress almost assures she will face investigation and impeachment over the endless flow of disclosures of information her private email system sought to keep secret. That certainly includes allegations of quid pro quo behavior by her State Department for international donors to the Clinton Foundation.

So, gaining a Democratic majority in both houses of congress—and keeping it past the 2018 midterms, and for both congressional elections (2020 and 2022) of a second presidential term in 2020—are vital necessities for a President HR Clinton to function in office, indeed, to remain in office at all. That's why you've been bombarded by so many out-of-state Democratic candidates you've never heard of for US Senate and House in every swing state or potentially close contest. Sure, cash-cow California always gets a bit of this "me, too" ATM treatment, but nothing like this year.

They can't openly admit they're terrified of impeachment, but clearly, they are.

Now, let's consider voter dynamics in those swing states, and even beyond. Hillary's rallies, to the final wire, have been routinely booked for small venues. That's telling, and it becomes important. Not just because Bernie filled sports arenas. and Trump fills the floors of basketball arenas. And depending where it is, Trump sometimes gets people to wait in line four or five hours to fill the arenas' stands, as well. The immediacy of that is different than the long term aspects. Seeing 25,000 enthusiastic Trump rally zealots, while presumably translating to that number of votes—if you believe the polls—does not equal the number of unenthusiastic Hillary voters. But it does indicate who is likely to have volunteers to canvass precincts for the congressional midterms in 2018.

Bernie had millenials galvanized as an enthusiastic voting block, including people who previously had been registered only as independents and many first-time voters. With as many millenials now registered to vote as the number of baby boomers, any political party can claim the future with that block, if indeed it can ever again be assembled into a voting block. It is a generation that organizes itself, picks heroes and causes and trends, all on the internet. It is difficult to rally its individual internet social media-following, selfie-posting "@-something-or-other" adherents, and impossible to do that for anything they don't embrace through their own processes of establishing "virtual" comfort zones and acceptance. Not that there is some slow "getting-to-know-you" requirement, because the web is instantaneous. Economic boycotts and ostracism imposed for acts of societal or environmental irresponsibility are common tools in their arsenal for social change, and proven tools to change behavior of unwary corporations or insensitive business operators alike.

Millenials are powerful at a younger age than previous generations mostly because, while more cohesive than any age cohort since the drafted GIs returned from World War II, the identity of these individuals maintains a shared coherence that transcends racial, ethnic, economic, income, gender, and every kind of self-identification criteria. As a result, they are about to be the ultimate determining factor in the most entrenched red or blue state, and, without doubt, THE most decisive element in determining outcomes in the most wavering swing state.

And the newfound political clout of this generation ultimately was wasted in 2016.

Cynicism replaced idealism as real politik was wielded as a hammer to crush presumptive upstarts. Will alienation from the political process follow, as it did for the anti-Vietnam war generation after its political heroes were felled? All we know now is that the inauthenticity of Hillary Clinton proved, quite predictability, to be unworthy of the energized idealism of activists who hung their collection of Bernie T-shirts in the closet. Even if a sizeable number of millenials succumb to the fear-based warnings of "But, but, Trump!" and vote for Hillary, it will be with an utter lack of conviction and no sense of future loyalty to the Democratic Party. So, swing state factor in 2016? Limited, and that's evaluated in the next section. Beyond that? Uncertain, and it'll be at least as uncertain after the election.

Ground Games

For the present—and every politician is only worried about doing what's necessary to win the current election, knowing they can walk it back over the next two or four years—millenials will play a measurable role, particularly in states where large university populations are important. Thus, in Wisconsin, where a Republican governor effectively declared war on higher education funding, and North Carolina, with three important universities, the student population and those saddled with crushing college debts are important blocks that determine which way their swing state will swing.

We have looked at the factors of the Hillary campaign coming up shockingly short of volunteers. Whether to staff local Democratic campaign headquarters or to attend its stunningly modest rallies, her campaign has been dependent, nationally, on paid union staffers. So it's a contradiction that Trump, with his massive rallies, is the one with a nearly non-existent ground game.

In solidly blue states, including California, the Clinton campaign has struggled for volunteers. In swing states, they've put their record intake of campaign cash to work. We won't know the total amounts raised by the numerous appendages of Clinton campaign fund raising entities until the final Federal Elections Commission reporting period. It has certainly surpassed a billion dollars and is by far the most expensive political campaign in American history.

As the late Jess Unruh, longtime Speaker of the California Assembly, famously said, "Money is the mother's milk of politics."

Among the things it buys is ground troops to be deployed where needed. Chris Matthews spoke openly on his MSNBC show, "Hardball," on Friday, about "Now is when they give out the walking around money."


When Chris Matthews tossed out the line about "Walking around money" distributed by party operatives on election day, he got gasps and other expressions of shock from his panel. Seeing that, he quickly continued, as if to stifle the reaction, "No, it's legal. It's real. You give a guy you know in your ward a hundred bucks up front. He makes sure the people on his street get visited. 'Go to the polls.' They get visited again later in the day, 'Did you vote? Show me. No? We're going to the polls now.' I grew up in Philly where everybody's a Democrat and that's the way it works."

Philadelphia County gave Pres. Obama a 6-to-1 margin, with 500,000 Pennsylvania votes in 2012. It seems inconceivable that Clinton can equal that, especially among the African-American community, but that's where the ground game's arm-twists become so important. In adjacent Chester County, part of metro Philly, Obama actually lost by two-tenths of a percent to Mitt Romney. Clinton, abidingly popular among more affluent whites, will do better here.

Philadelphia—across all its various racial and ethnic neighborhoods, traditionally has one of the best organized ground games in all of American politics. Matthews remarked a few years ago, "Chicago's got nothin' on them."

For some, it all reeks of the specter of New York's 19th century corruption based from Tammany Hall. See it as a classic expression of whether the ends justify the means. It's not unique. Among Republicans, there has always been a similarity with the golf or tennis club set, and Wall Street banksters squeeze money from every appendage of their octopus for both parties, in a self-imposed protection racket.

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But we're talking about Pennsylvania. Steel plays a role, but it's a small fraction of an economy now successfully shifted from rust belt to technology. Most of the state is deep red. Team Clinton is the beneficiary of both of the state's two machines, the big one in and around Philadelphia and its western counterpart extending into a collection of small towns that comprise suburbia around Pittsburgh. The two parties fight over Harrisburg, York, Scranton, and the state's other cities, but the essential character of the map is red with those two blue islands where the largest populations are located. There could well be more in play than Clinton's vote total, for the US Senate seat the Democrats hope to flip. Challenger Katy McGinty is facing one-term incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, and that contest has issues of its own. So Trump's totals and Toomey's won't necessarily coincide.

Here is clearly a state where galvanized millenials would have produced a certain result.


The essential factor here? Bernie Sanders was supposed to lose Michigan by six percentage points. He won it by twenty. Jennifer Granholm is the Canadian-born beauty elected to two terms as governor. Now she's a prominent TV-talking-head Democrat that couldn't get elected again. Rick Snyder is the current Republican governor and poster child for austerity. No votes here are indications of, or apply to, anyplace else. Anything can happen in Michigan.

It's a state that mixes post-development collapse with undeveloped beauty and too much surrendered to the oligarchs and exploitive banksters. It has a rural Upper Peninsula that is more Canada than anyplace in the US. There's the no-cars-allowed resort of Macinac Island. There's plenty of forest. But there's a state-length lower peninsula shore of Lake Michigan that is far too privately owned and inaccessible to the public. There's an infamously poisonous municipal water system in Flint—a man-made disaster that happened because demands for austerity were relentless. And there's a partially post-apocalypse city called Detroit, where ruins and decay abound. Nobody wants to promise anything to Michigan because it would bankrupt the rest of us to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Michigan knows that, but votes with a sense of manipulative hopefulness, or a desperate search for something that might work.


No Republican has ever won the presidency without wining Ohio. That doesn't mean that every Republican who takes Ohio wins the nation, so, historically, it's just a one-way proposition. In 2012, Pres. Obama won Ohio by just 3%.

The Buckeye State's governor should have been decisive. John Kasich, a former and popular Ohio congressman, was the Republican that Democratic insiders feared most as the Gopper nominee. But it quickly became apparent that he was getting no more traction than a beetle in a glass jar. After losing and hanging around a painfully long time, Kasich neutralized the advantage his party could have had from holding its nominating convention in Cleveland. Kasich simply didn't attend. It was as if the Democratic Convention had been there, instead.

The state is a peculiar marriage of waterfront cities and rustbelt collapse on its northern fringe, facing Lake Erie, and waterfronted southern border on the Ohio River. In between is a lot of agriculture and a lot of industry that supports Detroit's automakers. The days of manufacturing the world's most sophisticated steam locomotives in Lima vanished when steam died. Columbus still houses the state capital and a vibrant scene around Ohio State University. A century ago, the state escaped becoming known as a hotbed for the revival of the Ku Klux Klan like neighboring Indiana. Disappointments that were inherent in the collapse of the American industrial age have given Ohioans a self-image as a practical lot. With an entire election cycle of little more than Clumpian barbs, they're among the nation's most disenchanted voters.

It's likely that the state will swing based on what happens in and around Cincinnati, the Ohio River port. The city is located in quintessentially diverse Hamilton County. Cincy has a large urban black population and appreciable local populations of whites of both the educated upper class (mostly Republicans) and struggling working class (mostly Democrats). Here, that party registration may well get upended by how people actually vote. The working class is expected to go for Trump, and the affluent Goppers have been heavily courted by Hillary Clinton. Pres. Obama won here in both '08 and '12, each time by a 6% margin.

That contrasts markedly with Belmont County, well to the east and bordering Wheeling, West Virginia across the river. It's 90% white. Trump won it easily in the 2016 primaries. Obama won here in '08 but lost in '12. It's worth watching this one as a bellwether for Trump's performance against Clinton in predominantly white regions with some industrial economy and plenty of rural character—something that still defines much of the American heartland. It remains to be seen how the Clinton remark about "Putting coal miners out of business" will play in an area adjacent to coal country.

North Carolina

In 2012, Barack Obama lost the state by just 2%. North Carolina epitomizes the concept of the "New America," a place where roadside factory outlets for textile mills has vanished in favor of tech and pharmaceuticals.

The city of Raleigh is situated in Wake County, with the state's largest population, just over a million countywide in 2015. Registered independents here are up 24% since 2012, while major party registration is stagnant. Pres. Obama won the county by 11% last time, but his winning margin was smaller than the new independent registration. This area will be cited as an indicator for the increasingly common smaller urban area with an educated population whose registration is heavily independent.

Things are similar around the city of Wilmington, located in New Hanover County. Here, independents now outnumber registrants of either major party, and are up 10,000 since 2012. Obama lost here in a squeaker in '08 (by 1.5%) and Romney beat him by a wider margin (4.5%) in 2012. Now, given, the predominance of registered indies, if the results are similar to Raleigh, it's an analog for other places beyond the Old South.

Florida, Florida, Florida

The late Tim Russert, supposedly becoming the first to discern that the Sunshine State would determine the next president in the 2000 election, voiced those words as he pointed to them on his hand-held dry erase board. That board is now in the Smithsonian, Russert is gone, and everything is wifi-ed from a reporter's tablet. But, sans hanging chads, it's still Florida, from top to bottom. There remains some truth to the old adage of Northern Florida being "Southern," and Southern Florida being "Northern," and that characteristic is a part of why this is a swing state.

It's the wackiest place of any we need to consider. The state's Republican Governor Rick Scott has actually forbade all state employees from uttering the words "climate change" or "global warming," yet his state is the most immediately at risk from currently rising sea levels. Several Florida cities have financed their own reengineering and some have gotten federal help to raise the elevation of their downtowns or beaches or establish coastal barriers to the ever more frequent storm surges. Municipal authorities often appear more engaged and reasonable than state authorities here.

In Northern Florida, there's Jacksonville, home to the NFL Jaguars and a couple of important Navy bases. In Duval County, where the city is situated, there is an affluent white majority and an appreciable black minority, more characteristic of Georgia than downstate Florida. Duvall might have gone blue for a different Democrat, or even now, it may solidly renounce Trump. In 2004, it went for GW Bush by 60,000 votes. By 2012, Romney beat Obama here by only 16,000. It's one of the places in the state where the Latino vote is not the decisive factor.

We've already looked at Tampa and Hillsborough County, but there's more: in 2012, there were 543,000 registered Latino voters here, and many more who didn't vote. Trump's strident stand against immigration and insults directed at Mexicans are expected to produce a far stronger Latino, especially Mexican-American, vote this time. In early voting alone, a quarter of the Latinos voting this time had not voted in 2012.

South Florida is distinctively different and will likely be decisive. The biggest prize in the state is Miami-Dade. In 2012, the Latino vote was all about the Cuban-American vote when that community cast 333,000 ballots for Republicans. But that hefty total was eclipsed by the county's total of 541,000 cast by a mosaic of younger Cuban-Americans, other Latinos, and most of the county's African-American voters.

This one will tell us whether Clinton can come close to Barack Obama's support from South Florida's black voters, if other Latino votes can make up or surpass that difference, and whether disparities will compound into her loss column if Trump secures the usual solid total from older Cubans. A complicating factor is how Sen. Marco Rubio's supporters perceive Trump. This is a Rubio stronghold. And it's another place where Bernie's millenials, who include the younger Cuban-American population, would have erased the question.

So, Florida is again a swing state. But this time, even considering all those factors, how it comes out may ride on just one thing—the non-Cuban Latino vote. And that means the Puerto Rican vote and the Mexican-American vote.

Some analysts see Trump's anti-Mexican remarks as the key. Others suggest that which way the state's electoral votes go will probably be determined by the most recent immigrants, already Americans eligible to vote and experienced in a very limited amount of voting—though not for any federal representative—from being raised on the US Carribean island of Puerto Rico.

All that , and how it most assuredly impacts the 2016 election, only makes sense if we look at how that came to be.

Earlier this year, US investment bankers borrowed a profitable lesson from their Frankfurt bankster cousins. The German banks, using EU authority for cajoling and ultimately, blackmail and enforcement, destroyed the national economy of Greece because there was profit in that. The same German banksters tried more of the same with Poland, Spain and Ireland.

Profitable deals are always copied in the financial world, with little or no regard for national good or ethics. In the US, two decades of international trade deals had devastated the economy of the American colony of Puerto Rico. Shortly before that, meeting basic service needs for Puerto Ricans—who, remember, are all US citizens—had begun to be re-wired since the time of Ronald Reagan, with the Congressionally appointed territorial governor and his administration being stuck with more and more debt that had been borne by US taxpayers, as they are for all other American colonies (Virgin Islands, Guam, etc.) In Puerto Rico, with the die cast in the '80s, debt—and, uniquely among America's possessions -- that's debt in the name of Puerto Rico—became a hopeless spiral.

Culturally, there have always been push and pull factors on Americans native to the colony. Joining the military has long been an attractive way out of a poverty-ridden land for Puerto Ricans, just as it has been for other Latin Americans who were not born US citizens but wanted a path to citizenship. New York City's Puerto Rican population famously gave birth to the Broadway, then Hollywood, hit, "West Side Story." The fiction does reveal struggle for one's place in another culture. And six decades later, economics have exacerbated it.

Earlier this year, against strong public protest, Congress handed US and global banksters almost unlimited ability to extract interest on irreconcilable debts, and the president signed it with some fanfare. Congress not only failed to bring the books current for America's most populous colony. It also extended full enforcement and collection authority of the US government on behalf of the banks. At the time, expressions of shock and outrage likened the government to the armed Pinkertons who enforced collections for Gilded Age Robber Barons. Characterizations extended to literature's eviction specialist Simon Legree, cartoon villain Snidely Whiplash, and Sheriff John, medieval exploiter of the peasantry and nemesis of Robin Hood.

Regardless of the portrayal, the bottom line is the same: there are Americans in a colony where they confront taxation without representation to the government that determines their fate, they, as a result, have no hope of ever seeing their homeland prosperous.

That brings us halfway to the connection with the 2016 election. Florida, as we have seen, has over two million Latino voters.

Again, let's determine the backdrop. About a million Floridians are of Cuban origin or ancestry. They have always been heavily Republican, owing to what they see as JFK's double-whammy of refusals to "Free Cuba" from Fidel Castro—who himself freed it in the Cuban Revolution, before clamping down the screws of a Soviet-style communism.

First, the Kennedy administration would not support, with a full US military deployment, the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion planned during the waning months of the Eisenhower administration. Second was the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the US ended the threat of impending nuclear war, by pledging never to invade Cuba.

Both actions likely avoided war between the superpowers. But just as LBJ's backing of Civil Rights legislation gave, as he foresaw, "Control of the South to the Republicans for a generation," Kennedy's ultimate refusal to overthrow Castro caused Cubans rushing to become US citizens to also become staunch and lifelong Republicans.

Demographics changed over three decades from the initial influx of Cuban Revolution refugees of the '50s, through the continuous trickle of boatlift refugees and steady growth of families with traditionally large numbers of children. Successful businesspeople emerged. Cuban culture emphasizes education. Cuban-Americans increasingly entered the professions of law, medicine, and teaching. As Florida's ethnic Cuban population grew, so did their influence. Naturally, politicians began to emerge. By the 1980s, an adaptive, rather transplanted Cuban culture had replaced South Florida's traditional Jewish retiree culture as its key ethnic component.

By 2016, Florida's Cuban-American US Senator Marco Rubio was a serious GOP contender for the party's presidential nomination.

All the while, the dynamics studied so thoroughly after the 2000 election were changing. Florida's Puerto Rican population, because the influx and center of culture had shifted from New York to Florida, was overtaking the state's Cuban minority. Then, President Obama took all the vital steps to open relations with Cuba, and travel and trade can resume anytime Congress ends its arcane blockade. Latino millenials, across the spectrum of ethnicities, applauded and a seismic shift was set in motion. While some older Cuban-Americans are fiercely resistant, everyone else is celebratory.

Meanwhile, there has been influx and growth of Florida's Mexican-American communities, particularly important numerically in the places we cited.

The 2016 election in Florida will come down to whether Mexican-Americans and younger Cuban-Americans, led by Latino millenials, will galvanize around Hillary Clinton, or simply register some disapproval of Donald Trump. If they do unite, their numbers are sufficient to render the staunch old guard of Cuban Republican voters obsolete and numerically insignificant. Moreover, if such a galvanization of Florida's Latino voters occurs, it will mark the first clear example of a previously white state experiencing a demographic shift of power to a different segment of the state's population. Florida is very much the future for a nation with a shrinking white population and growing Latino population, and the unique blend of Cuban regard for education, Puerto Rican understanding of the American system and what does and does not work within it for the benefit of the people, and the traditional Mexican regard for family is the best place for the new ethnic America to gain primacy.

Swings Nobody Sees Coming: Washington State's Refusnik Electors

"Whaaaat?" In a year that's seen everything, there's still this: solid blue Washington State is set to send two of its Democratic electors who openly say they may not vote for Hillary Clinton. When they get to the Electoral College, Robert Saticum, a Native American and member of the Puyallup tribe, and Bret Chiafalo, who calls himself a "conscientious elector," are saying they won't do it. If Washington sends them because Clinton wins the Evergreen State, each of the two would pay the state's $1,000 fine as "faithless electors" if they break the state's law and refuse to vote for her. And if that results in a total less that 270? It simply becomes the end of it, at least as far as anything that can be demanded of them, and the election would go to the House.

Saticum, though coming from a tribe that contributed heavily to the Clinton campaign, says, “She doesn’t care about my land or my air or my fire or my water.”

He was previously a Bernie Sanders supporter, and now vows not to cast his vote for Hillary Clinton. We do not know if Clinton's statement about the Dakota Access Pipeline, parsed and equivocated to insensibility, is playing a role with Saticum. Thousands of Native Americans, including those from across the US and indigenous peoples from throughout the Americas, have journeyed to the Lakota Sioux reservation in North Dakota, where they have been subjected to increasingly rough treatment by neo-military forces employed by the pipeline builders . Many self-professed "water protectors" and "land protectors," two journalists, and a documentary filmmaker, have been arrested and charged with felonies that seem theatrically serious for opposing the pipeline.

Is this the beginning of a new role for states with populations on Indian reservations that are traditionally taken for granted? Or is a refusnik rebellion a swing variable rooted in causes that affect and influence everyone? Before you attempt to assess a "mavericky factor," hang on. Some readers will recall speculation in December, 2000, that some Republican electors might choose to vote in accordance with the popular vote and elect Al Gore instead of George W. Bush. The thinking went, it would be not only properly populist, but a "Profiles in Courage" moment. Of course, partisanship dictated that it did not happen, and any deviation from Electoral College expectations following the November election remain almost unheard of.

Still, we will monitor what happens to Saticum and Chiafalo, to check for any intimidation or threats of legal actions against them.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: What Would Have Swung Us All

Despite the longest campaign in American history, we never really got an exploration of rising neo-McCarthyism, blatant sabre-rattling, pro-interventionist proclivities, impudent dispatching of drones—including a massive new base to keep and launch them in Africa—or anything at all to assess the prospects for expansion of endless war. We never got a debate about the prominence of banksters in inner circles of government regulation, revolving doors for ex-congressmen to enrich themselves selling inside influence in government for those who rape the planet. We never got a discussion that meaningful exposed purveyors of self-serving trade deals as back room deal makers.

We never heard any reasonable assessment of what endlessly parsed reams of rhetoric, or impromptu and ham-handed proclamations, either one, would actually mean to the nation and the world. We received no examination of whether NATO is an obsolete relic likely to be the cause of avoidable provocations, or whether our world-record arms deals with the Saudis are more likely to produce peace or war. There was no challenge to a candidate whose close associates were scurrying to take the Fifth Amendment or to sign immunity deals. There was no trumpeted investigation of the absolute absence of credibility of Donald Trump as a business genius, and that one warranted the trumpets.

Instead, there was only corporate mainstream media, swinging at its own pinatas, never quite getting around to providing an even handed examination of much of anything important. There was no revelation of the shared partisan wallowing in Wall Street. It's been the province of the alternative media to refute the presstitutes. Investigative reporter Lee Fang wrote a story in "The Intercept" examining how major donors were beginning to reveal what they expect in return for supporting Hillary's candidacy. Amy Goodman had Fang as a guest on "Democracy Now" to talk about it and verify that the story had solid sources.

Corporate media was all but devoid of reporting on the jet-set sex scandals and clear evidence of sex with minors, the—what's that? Yes, those stories have been out there in books, for years, on both Trump and Bill Clinton, books written by those who have worked with each of them or been insiders with them in various capacities. We saw very little coverage or even scant mention of what Hillary has done, routinely and methodically, for years, to ruthlessly discredit and attack Bill's paramours, while presenting herself as a champion of women.

Mainstream media never pursued any of those matters. Not as screaming headlines on par with Trump's bantering banty rooster remarks to Billy Bush, remarks that would have gotten an NFL player a visit to the front office. And we certainly never got those actual allegations of specific behavior, made by specific people, presented and evaluated as factors that, if properly evidenced, irreparably taint both major party's candidates. Though Trump goes to trial in December on a 20-year-old charge of sex with a then 13-year-old girl. Bubba seems again to have gotten a free pass. But then, Julian Assange has opined,"Trump will never be allowed to be president."

Nixon was reelected by a landslide in 1972. Eighteen months later, he resigned in disgrace. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump come into November 8th as reviled as Nixon was when he resigned. And either one of them is highly unlikely to complete a full term. Had our media performed as the vaunted Fourth Estate envisioned by our Founding Fathers, we'd be having a very different discussion about different candidates. At the very least, with mainstream media not predisposed to malpractice, we'd all find that we lived in swing states.


Larry Wines