America Decides: The Make Or Break States

The race for the White House is being fought in a handful of battleground states. CBS News looks at the states that could be make or break for the presidential candidates on election day.

Posted: Oct 27, 2020 7:05 PM

In the sprint to Election Day, President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are focusing on the handful of battleground states that could make or break the presidential race.

“There's a couple of big themes running through the electoral map this year, and one of them is the Sunbelt and the Rust Belt,” said Anthony Salvanto, CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys.

That includes states President Trump won in 2016 that are back in play including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, along with the Sunbelt states the President is trying to defend including Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, even Texas.

“Voters in those states have told us that they were unhappy with how the Trump administration handled the COVID outbreak and that started to move some voters,” said Salvanto.

While the pandemic is an election year challenge unlike any other, one trend that’s carrier over from 2016, the rural, urban divide.

Southwestern Pennsylvania’s coal country voted overwhelmingly for President Trump four years ago. Republican Bruce Cochrane, a small business owner and Council President of Masontown Borough, believes Mr. Trump still has the edge.

“When Trump came in, things got better,” said Cochrane.

“I think people feel that they're better off now than they were four years ago,” he continued.

Two hundred miles east, in York County near Harrisburg, Mary Tribue has a different view.

“I’m 92; I've never seen the country like it is today. It has never been this racially divided,” said Tribue while in line for early voting. “I’m afraid, if he gets four more years, this country will be totally destroyed.”

More than 60 million Americans have cast early or mail-in ballots, setting records in some of the battleground states.

“It's not just simply who flips a county here and there, it's about margins,” said Anthony Salvanto.

The strengths of the candidates’ performance will especially matter in the key counties of the key states. While voters may disagree over who to support, they can agree the race appears neck and neck in the key states that could determine the outcome.

“It's very divided in both extremes at this point,” said Pennsylvania voter Damon Merkel (or of York County, PA). “You know, everybody's got their voice right now and we'll see what the people decide.”

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