Pennsylvania: A Key Swing State

Pennsylvania’s strong party systems and high electoral vote count— 20 — make the state winnable in any federal election, by the tightest of margins. In 2016, President Donald Trump only won the state by 0.7%. In 2020, President-elect Joe Biden has projected to win the state by 1.1%.

These tight margins are reflective of the demographic in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania has an east coast feel with midwestern values,” said former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper.

The state has 4,062,752 registered Democrats and 3,254,822 registered Republicans. The state’s total registrations is 8,549,062, all based on the annual voter registration report. During this election cycle, 3,434,768 votes were counted for Biden and 3,361,743 for Trump.

Photo from

It is also worth mentioning that 14% of voters are registered as Independent— a very influential number.

If Pennsylvania went strictly by statistics, a Republican would never win an election with 801,749 less registered voters. However, the state Senate and state House both have a Republican majority. It calls to question: Why is Pennsylvania a swing state with more registered Democrats than the GOP voters?

Photo of Pennsylvania’s electoral map 2020 from the Associated Press

The answers may lie in multiple factors— voter turnout, candidate platform and personalities and voters’ desire to balance the power in both the state and national capital.

Voters from the battleground state also do not seem to be tied to their own party.

Both presidential candidates spent a considerable amount of time in Pennsylvania, to energize and sway uncertain voters. President Trump held rallies in Johnstown, Lancaster and Allegheny County to name a few. States like California, New York and Alabama all have predictable voter turnouts, but what makes Pennsylvania and other states “swing states” is the unpredictability.

Preceding the 2020 election, FiveThirtyEight and other key polling websites all titled Pennsylvania “the single most important state of the 2020 election.” Before the election, polls showed Biden leading in the state, but polls also had the former vice president holding a slimmer lead in Pennsylvania than he did in other states that Trump won in 2016, such as Wisconsin or Michigan.

Although Pennsylvania has historically voted “blue,” voter trends indicate the state is increasing in Republican voter registration at a rate more rampant than the other side of the aisle. Within the past four years, voters registering as Republican have gone up 7.95% and those registering as Democrats have increased by 2.10%. With that information, we can expect that the battleground nature of Pennsylvania will remain for the elections to come.



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