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Breaking down battleground states

NEED TO KNOW
  • Why are swing states so important in an election?
  • Check out stats for each battleground state and find out which way they may swing this year
  • Learn what it's like to be a swing state voter
These states could play a big role into who will win the election.

Swing states: They can make or break a candidate's presidential campaign. Since they aren't party-loyal from one election to the next, they can give a candidate the extra electoral votes needed to clinch an election. And with this year's presidential race being as close as it is, these states could really help or hurt candidates President Obama and Mitt Romney. 

For the eight battleground states below, take a look at the number of electoral votes each one has, how they've cast their presidential ballots in the past, and how much money the candidates spend on campaigning in each state. Then tell us: Which states will swing Democratic and which ones will go Republican? 

Want to know what it feels like to be a swing state voter? HLN spoke with voters from Ohio, Florida and Colorado: Check out why they feel they have a heavier responsibility than most Americans when it comes to voting. 

FLORIDA:

  • Electoral votes: 29
  • Voting history: 51% voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008, 52% voted for George W. Bush (R) in 2004, and 49% voted for Bush (R) in 2000 (a tie with 49% voting for Al Gore)
  • Predominant racial makeup: 58% white, 23% Hispanic, 15% black
  • Interesting fact: Tampa and Orlando are the fourth- and fifth-busiest markets for presidential TV ads. Combined, the candidates spent more than $96 million on ads in the state.
  • Interesting fact: Close elections in Florida are often decided in the crucial “I-4” corridor stretching from St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach.

IOWA:

  • Electoral votes: 6
  • Voting history: 54% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 50% voted for Bush(R) in 2004, and 49% voted for Gore (D) in 2000
  • Predominant racial makeup: 89% white, 5% Hispanic, 3% black
  • Interesting fact: During this year’s caucuses, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum traded the lead multiple times, with Romney edging ahead by only eight votes. Two weeks later, the state GOP declared Santorum the winner, even though results from eight precincts were permanently lost.
  • Interesting fact: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport are among the top 20 busiest cities for presidential TV ad traffic. Combined, the candidates have spent more than $30 million in the state.

NEVADA:

  • Electoral votes: 6
  • Voting history: 55% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 50% voted for Bush (R) in 2004, and 50% voted for Bush (R) in 2000
  • Predominant racial makeup: 54% white, 27% Hispanic, 8% black
  • Interesting fact: The Vegas area is the busiest market in the country for presidential TV ad traffic. Reno is 6th busiest in the nation. Combined, the candidates have spent more than $30 million on ads in the state.
  • Interesting fact: Republicans have carried Nevada in eight of the last 11 presidential elections.

VIRGINIA:

  • Electoral votes: 13
  • Voting history: 53% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 54% voted for Bush (R) in 2004, and 52% voted for Bush (R) in 2000
  • Predominant racial makeup: 65% white, 19% black, 8% Hispanic
  • Interesting fact: Richmond is the country’s seventh busiest media market in terms of presidential TV ad traffic -- combined, the candidates have spent more than $70 million on ads in the state.
  • Interesting fact: In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to carry Virginia in a presidential race since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

OHIO:

  • Electoral votes: 18
  • Voting history: 52% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 51% voted for Bush (R) in 2004, and 50% voted for Bush (R) in 2000.
  • Predominant racial makeup: 81% white, 12% black, 3% Hispanic
  • Interesting fact: No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.
  • Interesting fact: Cleveland is the second-busiest area in presidential TV ad traffic – combined, the candidates have spent more than $82 million on ads in the state.

WISCONSIN:

  • Electoral votes: 10
  • Voting history: 56% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 50% voted for Kerry (D) in 2004, and 48% voted for Gore (D) in 2000 (a tie with 48% voting for Bush)
  • Predominant racial makeup: 83% white, 6% black, 6% Hispanic
  • Interesting fact: GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan is the first Wisconsinite to serve on a major party ticket.
  • Interesting fact: Wisconsin has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections. In 2004, Wisconsin had the smallest margin of victory of any state in the country.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

  • Electoral votes: 4
  • Voting history: 54% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 50% voted for Kerry (D) in 2004, and 48% voted for Bush (R) in 2000 (just 1% more than Gore)
  • Predominant racial makeup: 92% white, 3% Hispanic, 2% Asian
  • Interesting fact: The last three presidents all lost the New Hampshire primary before going on to win the White House.
  • Interesting fact: In the 2008 general election, 45% of New Hampshire’s voters were self-described independents.

COLORADO:

  • Electoral votes: 9
  • Voting history: 54% voted for Obama (D) in 2008, 52% voted for Bush (R) in 2004, 51% voted for Bush (R) in 2000
  • Predominant racial makeup: 70% white, 21% Hispanic, 4% black
  • Interesting fact: Denver is the third-busiest market for presidential TV ads – combined, the candidates spent more than $36 million on ads in this state.
  • Interesting fact: Obama carried Colorado in 2008, becoming only the third Democrat to win the state in the last 15 presidential elections.

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