As we approach the most divisive presidential election in recent history, our home state of Pennsylvania will be a key factor in who wins on November 3rd. Considered one of the most important battleground states by political analysts nationwide, Pennsylvania carries twenty electoral college votes. FiveThirtyEight.com, one of the most prominent polling companies, predicts there is a 37% chance of Pennsylvania serving as the election’s tipping point. There are several very interesting layers to the state’s political tides.
In 2016, an NPR report stated, “If you can’t win women in the Philadelphia suburbs, you can’t win Pennsylvania.” In 2016, President Trump carried Northampton, Berks, and Lancaster counties while losing in Bucks and Lehigh. In these suburbs, white educated women make up a majority of the registered voters. In the whole state, he won the vote amongst this demographic by three points over Secretary Clinton. For Trump to have a chance at winning the state again in 2020, he must maintain this edge.
If Vice President Biden wants a chance to win, he will need heavy grassroots support in urban areas such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. These groups are the outliers of a ruby red Pennsylvania, but carry so many voters in their counties such as Philadelphia’s 700,000 voters and Pittsburgh’s 600,000 voters.
In Pennsylvania’s most northwestern county, Erie, President Obama beat Senator Romney by 17,000 votes. Last election, President Trump won that county by 3,000 votes, a 20,000 vote switch. Erie is the county to look out for in the Pennsylvania race.
Another important county is Northampton, which President Obama also won in 2012. However, President Trump flipped the script by 11,000 votes, winning the county in 2016. Northampton county holds a lot of political power in the state, as white educated women can be the determining factor each election cycle. A lot of Philadelphia suburbs flipped Republican in 2016 and were the key to the state going red for the first time since 1992.
I predict a four-point win for the former Vice President Joe Biden, but if Pennsylvania taught us anything in 2016, it’s that the polls can be a few points off, putting Trump in line for a narrow victory.
Washington County, located just outside of Pittsburgh, takes part in the most fracking of any Pennsylvania county. Residents in Washington County who live within two miles of oil and gas extraction activity pay more than $23,900,000 annually in fracking-related costs. The fracking industry is a main supplier of jobs in Western Pennsylvania, with 330,000 jobs accounted for in the business. Vice President Biden has made conflicting statements about what he would do about fracking if elected. President Trump won the county by twenty points and could carry it by even more if Biden’s contradicting statements are in the minds of Pennsylvanian voters.
The most important and close to home county is Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold Biden must win by at least 80 points to win Pennsylvania. Clinton won the county by 82 points, but Vice President Biden will need as much as he can get in order to make up for smaller middle counties he will surely lose by twenty to twenty-five points.
In all, I predict a four-point win for the former Vice President Joe Biden, but if Pennsylvania taught us anything in 2016, it’s that the polls can be a few points off, putting Trump in line for a narrow victory.