The tipping point states of US presidential elections

by David Baron

The tipping point state is computed by sorting all the electoral college votes (assuming no faithless electors) by the % margin and finding the one that, given a uniform percentage swing, would have tipped the election.

If the tipping point is at the boundary of two states then those states are considered to have tied for being the tipping point. In this situation a uniform swing could have caused an electoral college tie.

The electoral college's bias is the difference between the vote margin of the tipping point state (or the midpoint of the two tied states) and the vote margin nationwide.

Year Tipping point USA Electoral
State Margin Margin
Wisconsin D+0.63% D+4.45% R+3.56%
Pennsylvania D+1.16%
2016 Wisconsin R+0.77% D+2.10% R+2.87%
2012 Colorado D+5.37% D+3.86% D+1.51%
(tie) *
Iowa D+9.53% D+7.27% D+1.97%
Colorado D+8.95%
2004 Ohio R+2.11% R+2.46% D+0.35%
2000 Florida R+0.01% D+0.52% R+0.53%
1996 Pennsylvania D+9.20% D+8.52% D+0.68%
1992 Tennessee D+4.65% D+5.56% R+0.91%
1988 Michigan R+7.90% R+7.73% R+0.17%
1984 Michigan R+18.99% R+18.22% R+0.77%
1980 Illinois R+7.93% R+9.74% D+1.81%
1976 Wisconsin D+1.68% D+2.06% R+0.38%
Ohio R+21.56% R+23.15% D+0.88%
Maine R+22.98%
1968 Omitted (3 candidates won electoral votes)
1964 Washington D+24.59% D+22.58% D+2.01%
1960 Omitted (3 candidates won electoral votes)
1956 Florida R+14.54% R+15.40% D+0.86%
1952 Michigan R+11.47% R+10.85% R+0.62%
1948 Omitted (3 candidates won electoral votes)
1944 New York D+5.01% D+7.49% R+2.48%
1940 Pennsylvania D+6.89% D+9.95% R+3.06%
1936 Ohio D+20.56% D+24.25% R+3.69%
1932 Iowa D+17.71% D+17.76% R+0.05%
1928 Illinois R+14.65% R+17.42% D+2.77%
1924 Omitted (3 candidates won electoral votes)
1920 Rhode Island R+31.19% R+26.17% R+5.02%
1916 California D+0.38% D+3.12% R+2.74%
1912 Omitted (3 candidates won electoral votes)
1908 West Virginia R+10.25% R+8.53% R+1.72%
1904 New Jersey R+18.63% R+18.83% D+0.20%
1900 Illinois R+8.39% R+6.13% R+2.26%

(using results tables from wikipedia)

* I had 2008 incorrectly listed as just Iowa. I fixed it on 2020-11-05.