Is Pennsylvania Still a Swing State?

Pennsylvania-MapAlong with Ohio and Florida, Pennsylvania is generally recognized as one of the key swing states when it comes to presidential elections.

Lately, however, the Keystone State hasn’t had much swing. It’s voted for the Democratic candidate in six straight contests.

Earlier this week, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball released their first electoral map of the 2016 election season. It included seven swing states but Pennsylvania was not one of them. Instead PA was rated “Lean Democratic”.

This outcome is unusual when you consider not just past conventional wisdom but 2012 raw vote totals.

For example, President Obama received 51.96% of the vote in Pennsylvania. Yet in three of the states Sabato considers 2016 toss-ups, the President got a higher percentage of the vote: Nevada (52.36%), Iowa (51.99%) and New Hampshire (51.98%).

Today writers Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley elaborated on their ratings.

They pointed out that Pennsylvania is what FiveThrityEight’s Nate Silver has termed an “inelastic” state.

Basically, PA has a relatively small amount of independent voters. For instance, of all the 2012 swing states, Pennsylvania had by far the fewest percentage, 20%, of independents. Additionally, we have the highest percentage of registered Democrats (45%) and Republicans (35%).

Therefore, while Democrats have a small advantage in PA, it is incredibly difficult for Republicans to surmount it.

Remember, in those last six presidential contests the Democrats did not take an overwhelming share of the vote:

1992: 45.15%*

1996: 49.17%*

2000: 50.60%

2004: 50.92%

2008: 54.49%

2012: 51.97%

So, except for the 2008 contest which took place in the midst of an economic meltdown, Democratic numbers have been kept under 52%.

All this evidence seems to suggest that Pennsylvania isn’t much of a blue state but it is still rather difficult to imagine how it can become a red state again.

*In 1992 and 1996, independent candidate Ross Perot received a significant share of the vote.

May 7th, 2015 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Presidential, Top Stories | 8 Comments

8 thoughts on “Is Pennsylvania Still a Swing State?”

  1. Oliver Swen says:

    Democrats of Pennsylvania–The democrats have done nothing about your worst problem that isn’t go away. Why stay behind them: Today, the TMI-2 reactor is permanently shut down with the reactor coolant system drained, the radioactive water decontaminated and evaporated, radioactive waste shipped off-site, reactor fuel and core debris shipped off-site to a Department of Energy facility, and the remainder of the site is being monitored. The owner says it will keep the facility in long-term, monitored storage until the operating license for the TMI-1 plant expires, at which time both plants will be decommissioned.[15] In 2009, the NRC granted a license extension which allows the TMI-1 reactor to operate until April 19, 2034. The democrats should have done something to totally decommision Three-mile Island by now, not given another 25 years.

  2. oldgulph says:

    Where you live determines how much, if at all, your vote matters.

    The bigger picture is:
    If Republicans lose either Florida (29 electoral votes) or Ohio (18), the candidate has no realistic path to victory.

    Over the last few decades, presidential election outcomes within the majority of states have become more and more predictable. Only ten states were considered competitive in the 2012 election.

    The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of presidential campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was invested on voters in just those ten competitive states in 2012.

    Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) got 5 general election campaign events, and $31,000,000 in TV ad spending.
    Ohio (18) had 73, and $148,000,000.
    Florida (29) had 40, and $175,776,780.
    Virginia (13) had 36, and $127,000,000

    From 1992- 2012
    13 states (with 102) voted Republican every time
    19 states (with 242) voted Democratic every time

    If this pattern continues,
    Democrats only would need a mere 28 electoral votes from other states.
    If Republicans lose Florida (29), they would lose.

    Some states have not been been competitive for more than a half-century and most states now have a degree of partisan imbalance that makes them highly unlikely to be in a swing state position.

    • 41 States Won by Same Party, 2000-2012
    • 32 States Won by Same Party, 1992-2012
    • 13 States Won Only by Republican Party, 1980-2012
    • 19 States Won Only by Democratic Party, 1992-2012
    • 7 Democratic States Not Swing State since 1988
    • 16 GOP States Not Swing State since 1988

    Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

  3. oldgulph says:

    A survey of Pennsylvania voters showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.
    Support was 87% among Democrats, 68% among Republicans, and 76% among independents.
    By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 81% among 46-65 year olds, and 78% for those older than 65.
    By gender, support was 85% among women and 71% among men.

    Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it would be wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

  4. Isaac L. says:

    IS QUINNIPIAC ACTUALLY ALL THAT BAD? I KNOW SUSQUEHANNA “POLLING AND RESEARCH” IS LAUGHABLY HORRIBLE AND A BLATANT REPUBLICAN SHILL GROUP. I MEAN, THEY HAD ROMNEY UP IN PA A COUPLE OF WEEKS BEFORE THE 2012 ELECTION.

  5. Jim says:

    PRETTY GOOD OBSERVATION jmars NOW ADD AN INTELLIGENT COMMENT –IF POSSIBLE

  6. jmarshak says:

    Turn off caps lock and learn to spell if you want to be taken seriously, champ.

  7. Jim says:

    THE REPUBLICAN POLLING THAT ANONYMOUS IS QUOATING IS RECOGNIZED AS SOME OF THE MOST INACCURATE POLLING IN THE COUNTRY.

    HE OR SHE PROBABLY KNOWS THIS — THATS WHY THEY LABLE THEMSELVES ANONYMOUS !!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, I would agree that Pennsylvania does lean democrat, but, if you look at recent polling data, it is how you suggest, a possible tossup too. And in some cases with the right candidate, polling has suggested that Pennsylvania could swing Republican. In fact, just look up head to head matches between Clinton and Republican candidates like Rand Paul. Rand Paul has actually in some polls come out ahead of Clinton actually beating her in Pennsylvania 45% to Clinton’s 44%, http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/poll-jeb-bush-rand-paul-hillary-clinton/2015/03/31/id/635460/. Granted that was over a month ago, but that would mean be even greater for Rand Paul given that Clinton’s drop in recent polls due to here scandals.

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