These states may decide the US election. Here’s what they’re reading

In our previous coverage of the US presidential election, we recapped the primaries and analyzed the topics driving politial readership. In this installment, we’re focusing on audience trends in swing states to understand how these coveted voters are interacting with content around this year’s candidates and issues.  

These states – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – were decided by 3% or less in 2020, and may well decide the 2024 US presidential election as well.

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Engagement with the candidates in swing states

Chartbeat data showing Biden vs. Trump Pageviews in Swing States

From August 2023 – May 2024, Joe Biden holds a distinct pageview advantage over Donald Trump in all seven swing states. This is consistent with what we’ve seen across the whole network as well as with the advantage incumbents have enjoyed in past years.

Aside from recent spikes related to Trump’s criminal trial, content related to Biden has averaged roughly 3 million more pageviews per day. Among swing states, Nevada is most favorable to Biden at 61% while Pennsylvania reads the most Trump at 44%.

When we compare Average Engaged Time and Recirculation for the two candidates in these battleground states, we see that Donald Trump’s Average Engaged Time of 52 seconds is better than Biden’s 45 seconds while Biden’s Recirculation rate of 10.4% is better than Trump’s 6.5%.  While Trump content is more engaging on a per article basis, Biden-related content is more likely to drive audiences deeper into a site.

Swing state audiences are more mobile

Swing state audiences are slightly more mobile than the network as a whole. In our last election update, we saw that election readers averaged about 75% of pageviews on mobile devices, 20% on desktop and 5% on tablet. While Wisconsin mirrors the national breakdown, all other swing states are 80-81% mobile.

Search plays a smaller role

Compared to national audiences, swing state readers are more often referred by other pages on the same site than by search engines. In these states, the percentage of internal pageviews jumps from a national average of 45% to 61% and search pageviews fall from 20% to 6%. Nevada has the highest percentage of internal pageviews (67%) and Pennsylvania has the highest percentage of search pageviews (7%).

While these audiences may not be searching directly for election content, it’s clear that they are inclined to recirculate to it once on site, and that strategically placed links can help them get there.

Loyalty higher for these audiences

Swing state audiences are more loyal than their national counterparts. Nevada has the highest percentage of loyal readers at 65% of pageviews, and North Carolina has the lowest percentage of new visitors at 55%.

The topics these voters engage with most

When we looked at election topics across the whole network, the most popular topics by total engagement were Climate Change, Economic Policy, and Education. By Average Engaged Time, topics like Abortion and Immigration captivated audiences the longest.

In all seven swing states, Climate Change and Economic Policy remain the top topics by total engaged hours, but in six out of the seven states, articles related to Israel / Palestine round out the top three. In Pennsylvania, the third most popular topic remains Education.

There is also uniformity in topics by Average Engaged Time. In all seven states, Voting Rights, Abortion, Ukraine/ Russia, and Immigration are the top four topics. With the exception of Ukraine / Russia, these topics match national preferences, showing us that swing state audiences are more concerned with foreign wars than the average voter.

Our top takeaways from the research

Mr. President(s), if you’re reading this, we may not have revealed the unique key to winning audiences in these pivotal states – in fact, we discovered that these audiences are more alike than different – but here’s what we did find:

  • Swing state audiences are more mobile and loyal than the rest of the US.
  • This audience is more often already on site when they recirculate to political content.
  • Climate Change and Economic Policy are important issues throughout the country, but the Israel / Palestine conflict will also be watched closely in swing states.