If Joe Biden appears with Western Pennsylvania Democrats at Obama 2012 level instead of Clinton in 2016, he will turn the state around.
Hillary Clinton had the best performance of any Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 in Allegheny County, which is Pittsburgh, but the rest of the Appalachian-western part of the state was a total bloodbath for her.
Clinton fared worse than Obama in 20 counties in western Pennsylvania
Donald Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 with 44,292 votes. Clinton lost at least 1,100 Democratic votes in 17 of the 20 western Pennsylvania counties listed below. In three other countries (Mifflin, Huntington and Clarion) it lost less than 1,000 votes. Western PA counties, where Clinton, like Allegheny and Butler, matched or surpassed Obama's vote were not included in this analysis.
The losses in four counties exceeded 4,000 votes each (Beaver, Fayette, Mercer, and Washington).
Here is a table of the changes in overall Democratic votes in Western PA from 2012 to 2016:
There are enough Democratic votes in Western PA / Appalachia to turn the state over to Joe Biden
Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes, but the Democratic vote in those twenty counties decreased by 51,810 votes between 2012 and 2016. There are enough votes in western Pennsylvania to turn the state over to Joe Biden even if Trump found his way and reduced voter turnout in the state by 2016 levels.
The Biden campaign doesn't have to win these counties. Trump was able to win many of these counties with 65% -80% of the vote. If Democrats in these red districts are mobilized at the Obama level, Biden will get 30% -40% of the vote. Changing the voting share from 5% to 10% would equate to thousands of lost votes for Trump in the rural Pennsylvania stronghold.
Joe Biden doesn't need new Democratic voters. His campaign just needs to get the 2012 Democratic voters back into his column.
Even if Trump successfully receives ballots after November 3, Biden could still win Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) said Sunday that there are Biden signs in places in Pennsylvania that didn't have Hillary Clinton signs in 2016. I can confirm that it is. Biden's support in western Pennsylvania appears to be higher than Hillary Clinton's, which is why Trump held a series of events in western Pennsylvania on Saturday.
As at the national level, Joe Biden has multiple paths to victory in Pennsylvania.
The Biden campaign has been working to energize Democratic voters in western Pennsylvania for a year. The raised Biden signs are a product of the local campaign, where they worked much more actively with local parties than the Clinton campaign in 2016.
With the national media focused on Philadelphia and the suburbs, Biden has a stealth path to victory in Pennsylvania that runs right through Trump's support for 2016.
When Obama voters return to Biden, Pennsylvania will turn blue.
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View the data that was used to compile this analysis
Mr. Easley is the Founder / Executive Editor, White House Press Pool, and a Congressional Correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a bachelor's degree in political science. His thesis focused on public order with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and professional memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Political Science Association