Why is Pennsylvania so crucial for Trump and Biden? Can POTUS keep his suburban vote?
The incumbent became the first GOP leader to win the Keystone State in 28 years in 2016 but his challenge is no less steep this year
President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden have focused hard on the state of Pennsylvania while aiming to win the White House in this year’s presidential election. The Keystone State has 20 electoral votes and both the candidates are keen to clinch them while targeting victory in the big battle of 2020. Trump became the first Republican to win Pennsylvania in 28 years when he defeated Hillary Clinton by less than a percent in 2016.
Can he replicate his winning performance there this time as well? Or will Biden bring the state back into the Democrats’ fold? Whoever wins the state will get an additional boost to become the next president of the US.
Both the leaders campaigned extensively in Pennsylvania on Monday, November 2, to reach out to the voters. Biden also campaigned in Erie, a county that swung from Barack Obama to Trump four years ago. The former vice president’s campaign also zeroed in on various areas and demographic and socio-economic groups in the state that speak of its diversity: the union members in Beaver County, African-American community leaders in Pittsburgh and Latino voters in Lehigh Valley. Even Jill Biden visited Erie and took part in a rural event in Lawrence County to mobilize voters. But why is Pennsylvania such a crucial state that both the Trump and Biden campaigns are putting in extra efforts there? On Sunday, November 1, Biden said in Philadelphia that his message was simple and that Pennsylvania is critical in this year’s poll battle. In October end, Trump told his supporters in Allentown that if his campaign won Pennsylvania, it wins the whole thing.
Trump mobilized White and rural voters in 2016
Trump will be keen to rerun his 2016 show in the Keystone State. The Center for American Progress said in a report in November 2017 that 84 percent of the voters in Pennsylvania were White while 54 percent of its total vote was cast by non-college-educated White voters. The turnout rate among these voters went up from 53 percent in 2012 to 57 percent in 2016. Trump’s credit lied in improving the turnout among the White voters and those from the rural areas. Had that turnout level remained the same as it was in 2012, then Trump’s victory would have been less likely, the report added.
This time, however, Trump may face unfavorable response from voters in the suburbs, especially the women. The southeast counties of Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Chester are crucial for his chances and one was not surprised when the incumbent was heard saying in a campaign in the southwestern city of Johnstown last month: “Suburban women, will you please like me? Please, please.”
Trump will also be worried over the large turnout in terms of mail-in ballots. It has been reported that more than three million mail-in ballots were requested in the state (registered Democrats in the state have more than a million ballot requests lead over their GOP counterparts). As of November 2, nearly two-and-half million ballots have been returned, which is nearly 10 times the number of mail-in ballots that were used four years ago, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar was cited as telling National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition’ on Tuesday, November 3.
According to NPR, if Trump wins a number of key states like Florida, Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina and Biden pockets those states that are leaning blue, it could all come down to Pennsylvania to decide the winner. Biden was enjoying a decent lead over Trump till the recent weeks but it has now narrowed down to make the battle for Pennsylvania more absorbing.
Both Trump and Biden have attacked each other to woo the voters of Pennsylvania. Biden has also tried to cash in on the fact that he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before moving out to Delaware when he was a child. Barack Obama, too, has campaigned in Pennsylvania to boost the turnout among the Black voters. It is unlikely that Pennsylvania’s full results will be clear on November 3 night itself but whatever the results are, its significance in this election will keep the experts busy for a while.