So here we are. The big day. The decider. THUNDERDOME. The stakes are high, and the paranoia is already at a fever pitch:

The workings of the American electoral system are arcane and baffling, even for us – and we live in a country where our own arcane and baffling electoral system delivered a Motoring Enthusiast Party candidate into the Senate. So that’s definitely something to ponder on.

But the key point to remember for the folks at home: some states are way more important than others today. There are many safe states – ones that will never swing away from being either Republican or Democrat. California, for example, ain’t falling to the Republicans any time soon. Likewise, vast swathes of the American West and South. are solid red and the Democrats don’t even bother with them.

So it really comes down to the swing states and the margin calls – those states that tend to oscillate between the two parties depending on the candidate. They’re the ones that decide an election. Let’s give you a real quick rundown of which ones are important, and what to expect from ’em today.

PENNSYLVANIA


Here Are The US States You Should Be Keepin’ A Real Close Eye On Today

Pennsylvania has traditionally been a blue state – with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh being generally pretty liberal – but its steadily grown more Republican over the years. There’s been opportunity for Trump to snatch a lot of white working class voters who usually go Dem.

His chances are slim though. This’ll probably still be a Hillary state.

FLORIDA

Here Are The US States You Should Be Keepin’ A Real Close Eye On Today

Florida, with its relatively large 29 electoral votes, has always been quite important in elections – not least because it tends to swing. It went for Bush, but it also went for Obama. Without Florida, Trump doesn’t really have a strong path to the presidency at all – and Clinton is polling slightly ahead there. 

The state has a pretty damn big Hispanic population, and… well, look, if you’re not across Trump’s hot takes on Latino voters by now, you probably never will be. Just close the tab and go back to looking at videos of dudes getting hit in the nuts by skateboards.

NORTH CAROLINA


Here Are The US States You Should Be Keepin’ A Real Close Eye On Today

North Carolina generally leans Republican – with some caveats – but it’s been a bit of a weird one this election. No one’s been willing to call it, and early indications show black voter turnout is lower than in 2012. That’s not great for Clinton, as she didn’t have much room to grow in this state.

Meanwhile, Trump’s consolidated a lot of white voters in the state quite recently. Though Clinton was polling ahead as recently as a week ago, this could be Trumpland.

OHIO


Here Are The US States You Should Be Keepin’ A Real Close Eye On Today

Ohio was one of the most important states in 2012 – and it’s often considered a massively key battleground state. Obama was throwing a lot of energy into that state. In 2016, Trump leads – but not by a great deal. It’d be a great for Clinton if she managed to snatch it away (mostly because Trump would be very mad), but her focus is elsewhere.

Early voter turnout has been strong for the Democrats, but if I were a betting man – and I am – I’d probably wager that Ohio will stick with Trump. But really: who’s counting?

MICHIGAN


Here Are The US States You Should Be Keepin’ A Real Close Eye On Today

This is, honestly, a possible novelty entry. Michigan has been in Clinton’s camp in every singe poll this year, but Trump has been experiencing a surge there of late. There are good reasons for this: it’s a heavily post-industrial state with a lot of disaffected working class voters who see truth in Trump’s aggressive stand against free trade.

But again – this could be a long shot.


Look, there could be some other big shifts. Arizona could (maaaaaaaaaaybe) go to the Democrats, for example. But the above states are the ones you should really be looking at. At least you can rattle them off in a list to your mates and pretend that you know wtf is going. Barely anybody does at this point.

Photo: Getty Images.