‘It’s Pennsylvania, Stupid!’: why America’s ‘Blue State’ could side with Trump

Photo Courtesy of TheDuran.com

Photo Courtesy of TheDuran.com

This year’s US presidential election has been monumental; if not always for the right reason. First of all, it’s the first time two notoriously unpopular nominees have gone head to head. Secondly, two of the country’s  ‘battleground states’, Florida and Ohio, may not hold the key to deciding who will win. Instead, it’s Pennsylvania that could become the swing state.

The people of Florida and Ohio have voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1996. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has sided with the Democrats in every single election since 1992. But in 2016, Pennsylvania could be the crucial player in the presidential race and ultimate arbiter of whether Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A 450ft tall sign supporting the Republican Candidate spraypainted in a field in Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Lynn Ryan.

A 450ft tall sign supporting the Republican Candidate spraypainted in a field in Pennsylvania.
Photo courtesy of Lynn Ryan.

Florida and Ohio will likely remain necessary for Trump to obtain the necessary 270 electoral votes. Pennsylvania, where the projected Democratic share of the two-party vote would drop to 52.3 percent, would become the next most winnable state for Republicans after Florida (50.6 percent) and Ohio (51.9 percent). In fact, after Pennsylvania, the next most winnable states for Trump would be New Hampshire (52.9 percent) and Iowa (53.0 percent), followed by Virginia (53.2 percent), Wisconsin (53.4 percent) and Colorado (53.7 percent).

In the run-up to tomorrow morning’s result, here are the key reasons why Trump is likely to perform better in Pennsylvania than in Colorado or Virginia, regardless of the final national outcome:

  1. The Economy — Voters are more likely to turn on the party in the White House when they perceive the economy to be doing poorly. At the moment, the economy is doing a lot better in Colorado and Virginia than it is in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania residents’ economic confidence is well below average, and Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra fits perfectly into blue-collar manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania.
  2. Demographics — Older, white voters without college degrees are the bedrock of Trump’s coalition, and Pennsylvania is the sixth-oldest state in the nation. As of 2014, its median age was 40.7 years, three years older than in Virginia and four years older than in Colorado, according to the census. Pennsylvania also has a much whiter electorate. According to the Census, as of 2014, 83 percent of its eligible voters were non-Hispanic whites compared with 78 percent in Colorado and 70 percent in Virginia.
  3. Voting Laws — Since the 2012 election, Colorado and Virginia have taken steps to expand participation. In 2013, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation that allows same-day registration, which could reduce barriers to young and Latino first-time voters. This April, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring voting rights to 200,000 felons who have served their sentences.

Many Democrats take Pennsylvania for granted because it hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988. But in 2012, its margin for President Obama was just 5.4 percentage points, equal to his margin in Colorado and less than his margins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — all states included in early pro-Clinton ad reservations this year. Moreover, unlike those four states, Pennsylvania has trended toward Republicans over time, thanks to its older, whiter and more working-class electorate.

In 1996, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ drove Bill Clinton right up to the White House. Tomorrow, Hillary might hear from her opponent: ‘It’s Pennsylvania, stupid’. That might be the most painful lesson in Clinton’s life and the biggest paradox of the latest history of United States.

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