Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

With Donald Trump securing the Republican presidential nomination, the stage is set for another presidential election between him and current U.S. President Joe Biden. Pennsylvania is an important state for both candidates due to it being the largest swing state. Both presidents know this and are attempting to appeal to PA voters. With 19 electoral votes, Pennsylvania, tied with Illinois, holds the fifth most in the nation, meaning it has great influence in elections. 

In 2016, when Donald Trump was elected over Hillary Clinton, Pennsylvania was among the states that Trump won over. However, in 2020, Biden managed to win the state. According to 270towin — the main source on past presidential elections — the margin of victory in Pennsylvania was less than 2% in both elections. In 2020, the margin of victory was 1.2%, about 80,000 votes, and .7%, or about 44,000 votes, in 2016. With this current pattern, it is reasonable to expect another close race this year. 

According to a recent poll conducted by CNN in Pennsylvania, both Biden and Trump gained 46% of the votes. Biden won the majority of women, voters of color, college graduates and independents, while both were tied when it came to voters under the age of 35. Despite the results, 53% of the voters said they were unhappy with the choices when it came to who they could elect between the two. While this may not be the official election results, and not everyone in the state was polled, this slight decrease in Biden voters could be due to his decrease in approval rating. In a recent study by Reuters, Biden’s national approval rating started at 55% when he first came into office in 2021. Since then, it has been on a steady decline,now resting around 37%. 

In order for each president to win, they must maintain favor in the areas that they had previously won, and in Trump’s case, gain support in other areas. Trump had garnered support in the more rural areas of Pennsylvania, whereas Biden had a lead in urban areas. For Biden, Philadelphia is one area that he cannot afford to lose. In a recent campaign, Trump visited Philly and showed off his new gold high-top sneakers to appeal to the more urban crowd in hopes of winning them over. However, these efforts might not even be necessary since voter turnout rates have not been favorable towards Biden in the city, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. In the general election last November, there was an increase in votership among mostly upper-class white people, who typically vote Republican. This came at the same time as voter turnout in Black and Latino communities, who typically vote Democrat, dropped. 

In some areas in and around Philly, Biden is losing young voters. On the topic of the war in Gaza, some young voters are refusing to support Biden’s stance on the issue. In a survey conducted by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia-area students at a cease-fire rally were asked if they would still vote for Biden despite his policies in the Gaza conflict. About half said they would still vote for him over Trump while the others had yet to decide. Younger voters also say that they are hesitant to vote for someone who is 81 and may not be fit to serve. Despite losing Pennsylvania in 2020, Trump was able to gain more votes than he did in 2016. These votes came from mostly white rural areas, which have been steadily declining in population. One of the reasons why Trump lost was due to Biden taking hold of some of these counties. To reclaim the state, Trump will need to either make his mark on these areas or try to secure the urban vote. 

With election day just over seven months away, both candidates will need to channel their focus into trying to win the support of Pennsylvania voters, which could be the turning point of the election. 


Geoff Soland is a third-year History major with minors in Journalism and Museum Studies.

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