Ever-hardening partisan lines mean that increasingly few states will affect the 2024 presidential (and maybe congressional) elections. Nearly all states are colored in blue or red and changes are not likely in the short term. Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, and Virginia were not too long ago swing states. The first three are now red and the latter two are largely blue (the last gubernatorial election in Virginia notwithstanding). Nevada and New Hampshire are now pretty blue and Florida is now pretty red. The only real swing states left are Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. Any candidate who can win all five gets to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for 4 years. All the others are semi-irrelevant. Is it good for democracy that 45 states and D.C. don't much matter any more? Probably not.
Worse yet, it is not even the entire population of these five states. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh aren't really in doubt and neither is Pennsyltucky; a few hundred thousand voters in the Philadelphia collar counties largely control the outcome of statewide races in Pennsylvania. Ditto Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Gwinnett Counties in Georgia and similar suburbs in the other states.
But even the five "swing" states are starting to harden. In Michigan, the Democrats won the gubernatorial, attorney general, and secretary of state races in landslides. Also, both chambers of the legislature. In Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro (D) was elected governor in a rout and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) won a solid victory for the Senate. In Arizona, the Democrats won all the marbles. Only Wisconsin and Georgia are (probably) split decisions, depending on the Georgia runoff.
Looking back a bit, 80% of the states have voted the same way in at last the past four presidential elections. This is a record unmatched in the 20th century. Even during FDR's four victories, it wasn't this consistent. Then only two-thirds of the states voted the same way four times in a row.
The 20 states the Democrats have carried four times in a row now have 232 electoral votes in 2024. The 20 states the Repblicans have carried four times in a row now have 155 electoral votes. This may look like a Democratic advantage, but it is not as big as it may appear. Of the 10 states not captured by either party, four haven't voted for a Democrat since Obama. If we concede that Florida, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio are likely to vote for the Republican in 2024, no matter who the candidates are, the Republicans have a base of 219 electoral votes to the Democrats' 232. Although the Democrats keep hoping North Carolina will become the next Virginia—or at least the next Georgia—it leans Republican and hasn't gone for a Democrat since Obama in 2008. Add it's 16 EVs to the red column and we have 232 for the Democrats and 235 for the Republicans. Talk about close.
Of course, in politics, a week is a long time and Nov. 2024 is forever. If Donald Trump has been indicted in a few jurisdictions and perhaps even convicted in some by Jan. 2024. but still manages to win the GOP nomination due to the many winner-take-all primaries, he could be so damaged as to lose some reddish states like Ohio and Florida. If Joe Biden has a health scare next year, that could cost him the Rust Belt. Surprises are always possible. (V)