Looking at the map of campaign visits by Presidential candidates in 2016, it's obvious that a handful of swing states receive a disproportionate amount of attention from both the Democratic and the Republican parties.

However it's not clear to me if those visits bring any practical benefits to residents in those states? Sure, Trump or Clinton might have been more focused on the issues in Florida or North Carolina, but how strongly is this focus expected to affect policies in Washington given historical examples?

Obviously residents of swing states get to see their favorite politicians more often in person, but I'm not sure if it's a significant practical benefit in the long term.

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    Well, if someone were ever stuck in traffic for your commute for 3 extra hours, they would be able to answer that. Oh never mind, you said "benefits"
    – user4012
    Dec 7, 2017 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


There are several possible benefits:

  1. If the candidate is the incumbent, they may try to do something "nice" for the state, using their incumbency advantage - typically some sort of pork barrel spending, but could be a policy item - to time it with campaign effort.

  2. There is money actually physically spent in campaigning (at this stage, 9-figure sums).

    If a state gets more attention, it gets more of the money spent there - be it in paying local media outlets for ads, or paying campaign expenses (which both pays staffers and more importantly, vendors and other businesses). This infuses more money in local economy.

  3. Issues important to "get attention" states get more spotlight.

    For example, opioid epidemic in 2016 was a major attention grabber, whereas as far as I know very few people knew or cared about it before the campaign.

  4. People there get to feel more important.

    You may dismiss that as "insignificant", but before doing that please note that this ticks both "Esteem" and "Social belonging" marks (levels 3 and 4) on Maslow's hierarchy of needs

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    all good points. It might be useful to append to point #2 that while there's absolutely an influx of cash, it also costs states to be swing states as there is a lot of security concerns that aren't entirely paid by campaigns.
    – user1530
    Dec 7, 2017 at 16:18
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    @blip - if I do that, i'm'agonna go on a long rant about closed streets and such.
    – user4012
    Dec 7, 2017 at 16:22

Having lived as a registered independent in a swing state (FL) and a non-swing state (MD), I have seen this first hand. During the 2008 election, there were near daily calls from campaigns to remind me to vote. Most of them were bot calls and Obama was certainly worse about it than McCain. It got so bad that when I did get a Democrat live call, I informed him that the biggest issue in the campaign I had at that moment was the preservation of Bush's national do not call registry. While that registry doesn't ban campaign calling, the DNC member did get the hint that I could possibly vote McCain if I got another call from them and removed me from the register. I didn't receive another call until election night, by which point I had already voted.

Now in Maryland, nobody cares how the independent voter casts his ballot, no one calls, no one writes.

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    So you're saying living in a swing state is actually worse? Dec 7, 2017 at 14:22
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    @JonathanReez: Depends on your definition of worse. The campaigns do typically court your vote more than in solid states and will try and reach out to you more aggressively but the trade off is they can be very annoying about it. Would I like the candidates to care about how I vote? Yeah. Is dinner time phone calls from Robo-bama annoying? Yeah. Of course, that was the only time I voted in Florida so I don't know if the same thing happened in 2012 or 2016.
    – hszmv
    Dec 7, 2017 at 19:10

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