Stuart Rothenberg | Is Pennsylvania In Play for November?

I never include the Keystone State in my list of presidential swing states for November. Am I making a mistake? Possibly.

There are plenty of reasons to leave the commonwealth of Pennsylvania off any list of the most competitive states that will decide the next president.

While the 2000 national election split the country almost down the middle — then-Vice President Al Gore (D) beat George W. Bush (R) in the popular vote by one-half of 1 percent — Pennsylvania went for the Democrat by more than 4 points.

Four years later, with Bush winning reelection over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) nationally by almost 2.5 points, Kerry was carrying Pennsylvania by virtually the same margin. And in 2008, Pennsylvania performed about as it had in the two previous elections. While Barack Obama (D) won nationally by just more than 7 points, he carried the Keystone State by a little more than 10 points.

In other words, over the past three elections, the state has been 3 or 4 points more Democratic than the nation as a whole. That doesn’t make Pennsylvania another Maryland, Massachusetts or Hawaii, but it also doesn’t make it Ohio, Iowa or Colorado, three true swing states.


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