The Key Swing States of the 2020 Election
Part of our 2020 Election Series

Seema Mehta

Political Writer, Los Angeles Times

Dan Schnur (moderator)

Politics Professor, UC-Berkeley, USC, Pepperdine

October 13, 2020 11:00 AM    Webinar

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Part 5 of our 2020 Election Series will analyze how the nation’s geographical cleavages —battleground states, urban-rural divides, and regional differences — will play out on election night. The discussion will be led by Political Communications Professor Dan Schnur of USC, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine, who will be joined by Seema Mehta, political reporter for the Los Angeles Times covering the 2020 presidential campaign. 

As with all presidential elections, battleground states will determine this year’s outcome. Yet, the number of swing states in 2020 is far larger than we've seen in any recent election. The key swing states from 2016 such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will again play an immense role this year. But long-time blue states like Minnesota and historic red states like Arizona and Georgia are looking more competitive as well. How are Trump and Biden campaigning in this battleground saturated environment? This discussion will help listeners make sense of how these shifting geographical politics are mapping onto the race.

Seema Mehta is a political writer for the Los Angeles Times covering the 2020 presidential campaign. She was a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan for the 2018-19 academic year studying automation and AI and their impacts on voters in the Midwest. She previously covered the 2016, 2012 and 2008 presidential campaigns, as well as multiple gubernatorial, Senate and mayoral races. Mehta is a frequent face on television, appearing weekly on MSNBC, as well as on CNN, ABC, BBC and other outlets. She was named one of the top state political reporters in the nation by the Washington Post, completed a media fellowship at Stanford University and served as an alumna-in-residence at Syracuse University. Mehta also contributed to Times’ coverage of the Las Vegas mass shooting that won a 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for deadline online reporting, as well as the devastating wildfires that won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. She also won a 2008 John Swett award for media excellence for an investigative series about the Santa Ana Unified School District creating false class rosters to qualify for state class-size reduction funding. A graduate of Syracuse University, the East Coast native swore when she joined The Times in 1998 that she would only spend a few years on the Left Coast. Many years, a husband, a house and a few cats later, she can’t imagine living somewhere she couldn’t golf year-round.

Dan Schnur (Moderator) is a Professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications, the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, where he teaches courses in politics, communications and leadership. Dan was the director of the Sacramento Bee’s “California Influencers” series, in which he led a weekly online conversation among 100 of the state’s most respected experts in politics, government and public policy around the 2018 election. He is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

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