IN the razor-thin 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy campaigned in 49 states. Richard M. Nixon visited all 50.

The current contest is just as close and intense, but the candidates have campaigned in only 10 states since the political conventions. There are towns in Ohio that have received more attention than the entire West Coast.

The shrinking electoral battleground has altered the nature of American self-governance. There is evidence that the current system is depressing turnout, distorting policy, weakening accountability and effectively disenfranchising the vast majority of Americans…

In the current election, the battleground has grown almost comically small. Just three states — Florida, Ohio and Virginia — have accounted for almost two-thirds of the recent campaign appearances by the presidential candidates and their running mates. The three are home to an eighth of the nation’s people.