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The U.S. presidential election is determined by the Electoral College, a body of electors chosen from each state. There are 538 electors in total, corresponding to the number of members in Congress (435 Representatives, 100 Senators) plus three electors from Washington D.C. Each state has a number of electors equal to its total number of Representatives and Senators. To win the presidency, a candidate must secure a majority of electoral votes, at least 270.



While citizens vote in a general election, they are technically voting for a slate of electors pledged to their candidate. These electors then vote for the president and vice president. Most states use a winner-takes-all system, where the candidate with the most popular votes in the state wins all its electoral votes. Only Maine and Nebraska use a proportional allocation system, which can split their electoral votes between candidates.



Swing states, or battleground states, are crucial in U.S. presidential elections. These states do not have a consistent pattern of voting for a single party and can swing either way. Candidates focus heavily on these states, as winning them can be decisive in securing the necessary 270 electoral votes. States like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are often considered key swing states.



The election process begins with primaries and caucuses, where parties select their nominees. This is followed by national party conventions, where the nominees are officially nominated. The general election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Electors meet in December to cast their votes, and the results are certified by Congress in January. The president is inaugurated on January 20.