Pennsylvania: Biden’s birthplace of all places will be decisive for Trump’s election fate
The US consists of 50 states, but thanks to the special electoral system, one state becomes particularly important in the presidential election: Pennsylvania. Analysts give Trump a chance of winning just two percent if he doesn’t win there. Why is Pennsylvania so important?
Just because of the state in which he was born, Joe Biden could win the US presidential election. The Democratic presidential candidate is from the industrial town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and statisticians now consider the state to be the main arena in the battle between Biden and incumbent Donald Trump. The well-informed statistics website “FiveThirtyEight” gives Trump only a two percent chance of overall victory if he is defeated in Pennsylvania – but a 69 percent chance if he wins there.
20 electoral barometer
This is mainly due to the special electoral system in the USA. Each state has a certain number of these votes, measured by the size of the population. So in the presidential elections it is not a question of who gets the most votes, but who can get the majority of the electoral votes. For an overall victory, the candidate needs a majority of the 538 votes, i.e. at least 270. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes, the fifth most of all states.
As a result, certain states are more important than others to campaigning. Pennsylvania is one of those important statesbecause it is now one of the so-called “swing states”. This refers to the few states that are not clearly Republican or Democratic – and thus make the choice.
And on the other hand, Pennsylvania is now considered a reliable barometer for the mood in the country. Those who win in Pennsylvania also get good chances from experts in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa or Michigan, which are at least similar in their voter structure.
The state’s political geography is one of the extremes. Pennsylvania was a Democratic stronghold for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries. But the post-industrial decline of the white working class was particularly severe here. This electorate was particularly closely linked to the Democrats through trade unions. Yet the proportion of industrial workers unionized in Pennsylvania has fallen from 27.5 percent of the total workforce in 1983 to 12 percent in 2019.
That was enough for the state to fall back to the Republicans for the first time in 28 years in the 2016 presidential election. With his populist promises to bring back the lost industrial jobs, President Donald Trump was able to address mainly white members of the working class who no longer felt represented by democratic trade and industrial policy.
And so it is that the political map in Pennsylvania is now perfectly divided. In the very west and in the very east of the state are the democratically dominated population centers of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Between the two metropolises, however, is rural Pennsylvania, shaped by the Appalachian Mountains, where the Republicans set the tone. The result is a divided state: the governor of Pennsylvania is a Democrat, but parliament is dominated by the Republicans. Both parties are currently sending one Senator and nine MPs for the House of Representatives to Congress in Washington, DC.
The transitions between the two worlds are where the choice could be made. There are, for example, the smaller industrial cities scattered across the country such as Scranton, the birthplace of Joe Biden. In these cities, Hillary Clinton lost the state to Trump in 2016, but Biden is much better off with white male workers than Clinton four years ago. Especially since Trump could not keep his promise to bring back the lost industrial jobs.
“Can you please love me?” Trump begs
And then there are the suburbs of the big cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia: they were Republican in the past, but data shows that women in the suburbs in particular are increasingly taking the side of the Democrats. With his rhetoric and his ultra-conservative stance on the question of abortion, Trump has lost approval among suburban women. The result: In Bucks County, which consists of the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, the president is up to nine percentage points behind challenger Biden, depending on the survey. In 2016, Clinton won the circle by just two percentage points. It looks similar in other suburban counties.
Overall, Trump is lagging behind in Pennsylvania. According to “FiveThirtyEight”, Biden is currently ahead of the polls with an average of 5.3 percentage points, while statisticians in the state give the incumbent only a 14 percent chance of victory. Sobering numbers that Trump did not hide. “Women in the suburbs, can you please love me?” He begged in mid-October at a performance near Pittsburgh.
Flood of lawsuits and threats
Therefore, the Trump team in Pennsylvania changed its strategy months ago. The main goal is no longer to mobilize Republican voters – but to make voting as difficult as possible for Democratic supporters. For weeks, the Trump team has been covering the local courts with a wave of lawsuits. So they want to prevent that postal votes can still be counted after the election day on November 3rd, even if the postmark shows that they were sent on time.
The state’s Republican-dominated parliament is refusing to change a rule that allows postal votes to be counted before Tuesday to save time – and prevent counting chaos. The Republicans could then use this chaos to challenge the election in court. According to authorities, three million people have requested a postal voting form in Pennsylvania alone. Counting all these votes on election night – almost impossible.
The Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, had only rejected an urgent application by the Republicans on Wednesday, which was intended to prevent the last possible date for casting the absentee vote from being extended by three days due to the corona pandemic. The Trump team even sent “observers” to polling stations in Pennsylvania and had postal voting locations monitored by cameras.
And the President himself never misses an opportunity to untruthfully discredit the possibility of postal voting during a global pandemic. Nor does he shrink from threats. “A lot of strange things happen in Philadelphia,” said Trump on Monday during a performance in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania – without explaining what he meant. “We’re watching you, Philadelphia. We’ll watch you from the top level. “
“Outlaw, power-hungry despot”
The Trump team’s calculation: Historically, Democrats tend to cast their votes by postal vote. Above all, students and ordinary employees who cannot simply take time off on election day – a Tuesday – to stand for hours in a polling station, prefer to vote by mail. Both strata of the population are more likely to be part of the Democratic electorate. Those who make the act of postal voting more difficult may prevent regular democratic voters from exercising their voting rights.
It remains to be seen whether the Trump team’s calculations will work out in the 2020 pandemic year, even if regular Republican voters would prefer to vote by mail. In any case, the state government of Pennsylvania is prepared for the worst. “The Trump administration’s attempt to suppress votes in the midst of a global pandemic shows its disdain for human life and will not be tolerated in the birthplace of American democracy,” said a statement from Philadelphia District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner , on Wednesday. “We don’t let ourselves be ruled by a lawless, power-hungry despot.”
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