For all intents and purposes, the 2024 presidential election campaign is off and running.
In fact, some pundits say it started the day after the midterm congressional elections two months ago. Others say Donald Trump lit the fuse a week later when he announced another run for political gold.
And now, former South Carolina governor – and Trump’s ambassador to the UN – Niki Haley has announced. And former President Trump has already dubbed his presumed toughest Republican competitor, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, as “Meatball Ron.”
On the democratic side, virtually all of America is waiting for President Joe Biden to officially announce his candidacy for reelection – after a bully pulpit-like State of the Union address last week.
Thus, once again, with so much policy, legal action and geopolitical volatility in flux, Americans will soon face another spirited debate over not just who we should vote for but how we even should choose our presidents.
To Campaign or Not to Campaign
One thing is certain, however: 41 states and the District of Columbia are already in the bag for either the 2024 Republican or Democratic presidential nominee.
Why? Because of the state-by-state, winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes for president and vice president. Remember, 270 or more electoral votes are needed to win the presidency.
According to the National Popular Vote, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization (NPV), the Republican nominee can count on 218 electoral votes from 24 states (red on the map above).
The Democratic nominee can count on just about the same – 211 electoral votes from 17 states and DC (blue on the map).
NPV says the 2024 campaign will be concentrated in just 9 states (yellow on the map), which (together with one competitive congressional district in Maine and in Nebraska) have a combined total of 109 electoral votes.
Close analysis shows that presidential candidates only campaign in closely divided states where they have something to gain or lose. In practice, this has meant that the candidates are separated by no more than eight percentage points in polls.
Because Iowa, Ohio, and Florida are no longer in this competitive range, the number of spectator states will reach a high of 41 in 2024.