The US Presidential election will likely come down to the results in just a few states [File: Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press]

So-called “battleground” states, also known as “swing states” or “toss-up” states, hold disproportionate sway in US presidential elections, which are decided not by the national popular vote but by the Electoral College.

Every election cycle, millions of dollars are poured into advertising and campaigning in these states, which are considered in play for both candidates and offer relatively large electoral college vote hauls. More technically, election analysts consider states battlegrounds where the margin of victory is expected to be fewer than five percentage points.

In contrast, several states, early on in a presidential election, are considered likely or extremely likely to

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