That’s the conclusion of the crew at Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
In their new electoral college ratings, PA was moved from “Likely Democratic” to “Lean Democratic”. Pennsylvania was the only state to move closer to Trump in the new rankings. Arizona and Georgia were shifted from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican” while Utah went from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican”.
“Here’s where we’ll see the success or failure of the Trump appeal to white blue-collar voters (culturally and/or economically),” they write of Pennsylvania. “The state as a whole has moved slightly toward the Republicans over the past few cycles. However, we’ve seen much larger average shifts at the county level. Western Pennsylvania has reddened sharply — over the past four cycles, the nine counties with the largest relative movement in the GOP’s direction are located there — while eastern Pennsylvania, particularly near Philadelphia, has trended notably Democratic. But Pennsylvania remains a fairly white state (19th by non-Hispanic white overall), so it’s perhaps unsurprising that early polls there show Trump, who will be very reliant on white voters, has a shot to compete for the state’s 20 electoral votes.”
“If Trump’s blue-collar strategy is going to work, the Keystone State is a logical target,” they conclude. “But it’s an open question how many more votes a Republican can add to the party’s net tally in areas such as southwestern Pennsylvania, considering the edge the party has there already. In addition, Trump will also have to overcome what should be at least a 400,000-vote Democratic plurality just from Philadelphia County, not to mention challenges in the big, wealthy, well-educated suburban counties that ring the city.”
The debate over whether Clinton has a lock on Pennsylvania has been one of the most contentious and fascinating of the year.