Campaign season has traditionally offered few surprises for those evaluating the political map every year. California will generally vote Democrat. Places like Alabama usually will vote Republican. And the races that matter will likely occur in a handful of “purple” swing states scattered throughout the country with diverse populations, a clear urban/rural divide, and a deep legacy of investment by national candidates.
At least, that was tradition.
Today, several state and federal elections in traditionally blue states like New York and Oregon are virtually toss-ups, with Republicans threatening to upend years—if not decades—of Democratic control. States once ignored in the national conversation, like Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina, have emerged as some of the nation’s most contentious political battlegrounds over the last 15 years, often returning single-digit margins in presidential races and highly competitive contests for state and national office.