Trump, Biden blitz Pennsylvania, the state that ‘decides’ US presidents
In America’s unique presidential election system based on electoral college numbers, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as the state calls itself officially, has emerged as the “tipping-point” state for the 2020 White House race: whoever wins Pennsylvania wins the presidency.Updated: Oct 27, 2020, 19:22 IST
President Donald Trump addressed three rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday and his Democratic rival Joe Biden chose the state for his solitary campaign event of the day.
In America’s unique presidential election system based on electoral college numbers, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as the state calls itself officially, has emerged as the “tipping-point” state for the 2020 White House race: whoever wins Pennsylvania wins the presidency.
“We get Pennsylvania, we win the whole thing,” Trump said to cheering supporters in Allentown, at the first of the day’s three rallies, on a cold and rainy morning. Framing the election as a choice between his “super-recovery” and Biden’s “depression”, Trump went on to say he was confident he will be re-elected “almost easily”.
An hour’s drive south in Chester, Biden told reporters later in the afternoon at an election centre that he hoped to carry Pennsylvania “by the grace of god”.
Here is how FiveThirtyEight, one of the most trusted poll-forecasters, saw Pennsylvania’s centrality to the 2020 race way back in September, which has now been affirmed and reaffirmed by others: “Pennsylvania is so important that our model gives Trump an 84% chance of winning the presidency if he carries the state — and it gives Biden a 96% chance of winning if Pennsylvania goes blue.”
Biden is leading Trump by 5.1 percentage points in the FiveThirtyEight weighted average of polls in Pennsylvania now, and by 4.8 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
With just eight days to the close of polling on November 3, FiveThirtyEight has Biden in the lead by 9.4 percentage points (52.3% to Trump’s 42.9%) nationally; and RealClearPolitics has the former vice-president also in the lead but at 7.8 percentage points (50.8%-43%). More than 63 million Americans have already cast their votes through early in-person and mail balloting.
“It’s good, it’s good to be part of the big, big pitch,” said Louise Pyle, a Trump supporter at the president’s Allentown rally, when asked how it felt to be in the state that everyone says will decide the 2020 race. “Yeah, I think, Pennsylvania’s going to come right up to the end to be the one that makes the final decision.” Does she feel weighed down by the responsibility? She shook her head.
Ian Chapman, another Pennsylvanian, is not very impressed by this talk of the state being a tipping point. “I don’t think so,” he said, dismissively, “Every election that’s the political verbiage — toss-up states, tipping point, every election is the election of the century. I don’t buy into it. Issues are important and that’s what matters.” He is an independent who voted for Trump in 2016 and will vote for him again based “on my gut”.
Trump beat Hillary Clinton narrowly in 2016 to pick up all 20 electoral college votes of Pennsylvania in the winner-takes-all system. Together with even narrower victories in Michigan and Wisconsin, also battleground states, Pennsylvania put Trump in the White House in an upset victory.
Over the remaining days to the end of polling, the two candidates and their surrogates will be in jetting in and out and across battleground states that will decide the electoral college math such as Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan essentially, and Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and others.
Biden, who says he is too superstitious to pre-judge the race, is seeking to expand the battle ground with two rallies at this late stage in the race in solidly Republican Georgia on Tuesday. This state has not voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1992, President Bill Clinton’s first term win.
“I’m going to Iowa, I’m going to Wisconsin, I’m going to Georgia, I am going to Florida and may be other places as well,” said Biden in Chester, previewing a packed schedule for the next few days. Pennsylvania? Biden was born there — Scranton city — and has based his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, the capital.
And Trump is sending his wife Melania Trump to Chester, where Biden was on Monday, later in the week.