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Clinton vs. Trump: Can Trump Win Pennsylvania as Polls Tighten?

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Hillary Clinton held a rally November 4 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Getty)

Pennsylvania has taken on new importance as the epicenter of Donald Trump’s hopes for a big upset on election night.

The electoral math is such that he needs to flip a state where Hillary Clinton has led fairly comfortably in recent weeks but that is tightening now. Colorado or Michigan would fit that bill too. But Pennsylvania, with its 20 electoral votes, would be the big prize that could really shift the dynamic. In September, The New York Times wrote, “The entire race could boil down to Pennsylvania,” adding that very few election scenarios would allow Clinton (or Trump) to lose Pennsylvania and win the White House. That’s still true.

How likely is it that Trump will win Pennsylvania?

Polling trends there are enough to give Democrats heartburn right now. That’s because the three most recent polls in the state, taken since October 31, show that the race is virtually tied:

Harper (Republican leaning): Tie
Susquehanna: Clinton +2
Gravis: Clinton +1

Those margins are in the margin of error.

Consider this as a potential October surprise: The government revealed Obamacare premiums will go up dramatically in 2017, although it says tax credits will offset that for most people. Still, the news of double-digit increases hit the airwaves October 24. And Pennsylvania was near the top:

To see how important Pennsylvania could be, here’s a scenario where Trump wins Pennsylvania and the White House. It even allows him to lose two other states where he is currently leading slightly in the polls: Nevada and New Hampshire. He could even lose Maine’s Second Congressional District (where electoral votes are apportioned.) What he can’t do, though, is lose Florida or North Carolina (unless he were to pick up some other surprise state, like Colorado or Virginia, where he trails in polls, but it’s getting closer).

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The above would still not be easy math for Trump. He’d have to win a series of states that are very tight in the polls right now, especially North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio. Clinton has held her own in Arizona and Georgia, too. (Without a surprise pickup like Colorado or Michigan, the math doesn’t work if Trump loses North Carolina or Florida, underscoring the importance of those states, where the race right now is a virtual tie).

Two other polls that captured the time frame entirely after FBI Director James Comey sent his letter to Congress on Clinton’s emails found her leading by 4 and 2 in Pennsylvania. That means four of the last five polls in Pennsylvania show the race in the margin of error.

No wonder both campaigns have been aggressively campaigning in Pennsylvania lately. Trump appeared in Hershey, Pennsylvania for a rally on November 4. Clinton appeared at a rally in Pittsburgh.

HERSHEY, PA - NOVEMBER 04: Donald Trump walks onto the stage at a rally on November 4, 2016 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. As both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make their final pitches to the American people, recent polls show a tightening race in crucial swing states. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Donald Trump walks onto the stage at a rally on November 4, 2016 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. (Getty)

It would certainly be an upset if Trump wins Pennsylvania, though (and it’s far from a sure thing. After all, he hasn’t broken into a lead there yet.)

Pennsylvania last voted for a Republican president in 1988. Obama won the state 52% to 46.6%, which was about where Clinton’s lead was – until the past few days. National Review wrote in July that Republicans have been trying to break the Pennsylvania code for years now and have only come close: “In the last six presidential elections, Pennsylvania has been close. But it has always broken for the Democrats.”

However, National Review, in an exhaustive analysis of past Pennsylvania presidential election trends, found that “Donald Trump’s deficit in Pennsylvania against Hillary is the smallest of any Republican candidate since 2000.”

Why is Pennsylvania fertile turf for Trump? National Review gave these reasons, among others: Democratic voter registration has dropped; Pittsburgh was turning red; there are a lot of white voters without college degrees in what is sometimes dubbed “Biden Land.”

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Pete Seville holds a Donald Trump flag near the venue where the Republican Presidential nominee holds an event at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center October 22, 2016 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Getty)

In July, former Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, told Politico that Trump’s message on trade and “law-and-order” was appealing to Pennsylvanians and could result in Trump winning the state.

Fast forward to November 4.

Clinton still leads in the RealClearPolitics polling average for Pennsylvania by 2.6%, but that’s dropped in recent days. How much?

She led by an average of 4.9% on November 2. She led 8.6% on October 9, according to RealClearPolitics. She led by 10% on August 25. The race has tightened before. It was a virtual tie in late July after the Republican National Convention and again in late September after Clinton’s health episode at the September 11 memorial. Her lead then widened again after the Billy Bush tape and sexual misconduct allegations against Trump, but it’s narrowing once again with just a few days to go before the election. White women are coming back to him, one poll discovered.

There are several things working in Trump’s favor right now in Pennsylvania (on top of FBI Director Comey’s surprise letter to Congress about Clinton’s emails, which upended the race):

Pennsylvania does not allow robust or in-person early voting, but limits it. Only 5% of Pennsylvanians cast early ballots in 2012 as a result. This helps Trump because his standing in the polls has shifted significantly in the past week.

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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks through Heinz Field after a campaign rally at The Great Hall at Heinz Field on November 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Getty)

Pennsylvanians who have cast absentee ballots can change them, something Trump has implored them to do. However, it’s not clear if many people are doing so.

Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of Obamacare premium increases in the country, news the Obama administration revealed just October 24.

The demographics of Pennsylvania help Trump, as the state is almost 83% white and only 28% of Pennsylvanians have a college degree. Trump has appealed to white, non-college educated voters.

What do the most recent three polls say voters are thinking?

The Harper poll (identified as leaning Republican by RealClearPolitics) found that most Pennsylvania voters have a “bleak” view of the direction the country is going in. According to the pollsters, “Trump has expanded his advantage with men (43-49%, 9/22: 42-44%). Independents prefer Trump (26-46%) but self-identified Moderates choose Clinton (57-31%).” Clinton was holding steady with her lead with women.

The pollsters found the shift had occurred in one region in Pennsylvania, identified as “Pittsburgh/Southwest.” The poll found more Trump voters were likely to express enthusiasm about the race and define themselves as being part of a “movement” but that most voters overall felt Clinton would win.

The Susquehanna poll says that voters placed jobs and the economy as their top issue of concern. Most people had unfavorable opinions of both candidates.

The Gravis poll did not provide much insight into voters’ opinions.

As for the two polls before those, the Monmouth poll (which had Clinton with the outlier 4% lead among the recent polls) found that Clinton’s support had dropped 6 percentage points nontheless since the last such poll in October. The pollster wrote, “Clinton is still in the lead, but the race has tightened in the past four weeks. It looks like this shift was in the works even before Friday’s FBI bombshell, which has made only a small contribution to this overall narrowing.”

Only 4 percent of those polled said they might change their vote because of the Comey letter. More importantly, the poll found: “The Republican nominee has regained some support among white voters, mainly among women, since October.” The poll also found that Trump had made “significant gains” in the western part of the state. The poll found that Clinton’s favorable rating had dropped slightly, while Trump’s was up slightly.

Finally, there was the Remington poll. It did not provide additional insight into the data.

According to ABC News, Pennsylvania voters can only vote early by sending in an absentee ballot. They can change their absentee vote on person on Election Day. But most people don’t qualify to vote absentee. The rules are fairly stringent. To vote absentee, Pennsylvania voters must be mentally incapacitated or out of town.

This helps Trump because early voting is not as robust in Pennsylvania; thus more people are voting after polls have tightened there in his favor. In 2012, only 5% of the state cast absentee ballots. (Compare that to a state like Nevada, where 69% of the electorate early votes). Michigan and New Hampshire also do not have wide open early voting and do not have in-person early voting. These are all places that Trump has targeted aggressively as the election winds to a close.

Hillary Clinton’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Rally: The Photos You Need to See

Hillary Clinton led a rally today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, attended by about 2,000 people. These are photos and stories from the event.

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LIVE STREAM: Donald Trump Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will hold a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Friday evening, his final event of the day. Watch it live here.

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Read more about Donald Trump and Melania in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com:

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31 comments

  1. Maybe it is getting old to you to that That woman should be in jail, however it is the truth. There is no one in the whole United State that can get away with what she and her husband has gotten away with. Also what is a shame they are still getting away with stuff. In my opinion she shouldn’t been allowed to run for the most important position in the United State.whom ever gets that position should be an up standing person whom actually cares about the American people ( all Americans). Not someone who is telling the weak minded what they want to hear. No matter what Trump said it isn’t has bad has what the Clinton’s did to women, veterans, etc. To just let someone died and do nothing about it. That says a lot about her character. Someone who every word comes out of there mouth is a lie. She is definitely not trustworthy. That is a really big deal. Because I can’t believe anything she says.

    • So you would have a person who loves war, makes fun of persons with disabilitys, uses the f word on tv , wants to build a wall shutting off Mexico, with tax payers money , and last but not least use our federal tax money that we paid in for years while he paid non to promote whatever he wishes?
      Are you insane do you really want this guy to press a button to start a nuclear war? All Clinton has going for her is questionable E mails and she w ont start a nuclear nightmare.

        • Trump obviously doesn’t care about you either. Not even enough to chip in his fair share towards paying for roads, police, air ports, military, schools, etc.. She is not working with Putin and so desperate for attention that she would be so naive as to become his “useful idiot” merely because a comment was misinterpreted as being a compliment.

        • Glad to see the Trumpettes are claiming the high ground again—NOT!! Geez, get an education, go back to school, learn what debate is, and get a job!

      • like a good little liberal you twist everything that was said or expressed, they have already proven donald has a way of expressing which he did do that day but has done it on more then one occasion with no one there with a disability its a childish way of expressing but he was not using it to poke fun to a person just a situation, and building a wall is to give accountability you maybe not remember but there was a time people had to get shots and checked for criminal back grounds if moving here and a set time with a green card etc and if they didnt ck in they went and looked for them, could not bring illnesses into the country need to seek treatment first etc but it was to protect the homeland not discriminate against anyone the is all political hype for political reasons only, he didn’t pay taxes because of the billions he did lose while starting out, poor deals that didn’t pan out so that is why a tax break for so long it was based on income which when they went belly up loss in wages its a legal deduction and he admits using it and also says it can and should be changed, its one of the loop holes all of them are making use of EVEN HILLARY. She gave access to nuclear energy (uranium) to Putin who is not a friend of the USA she did that not Trump she is the one arming them with what they need to make bombs and he wants to lower taxes she wants to raise them to 60 percent and she will not get rid of Obama/Hillary care because there is a lot of tax benefits built into that for her or them that you are not aware of. Its true Donald did take advantage but did not break the law, there is barely a lot she has not broken as a politician. I hope Trump gets in before she can do more damage then she has already done, that Clinton Foundation investigation is not going away any time soon.

        • Trump = Continued White Christians Only Privilege; especially for males; Clinton = Women, Men, LGBT, Christians and non-Christians,Whites, Asians, Latinos, African Americans all have a seat at the table.

        • adreamer 2, you state: ” . . . because there is a lot of tax benefits built into that for her or them that you are not aware of . . .” Just what are these tax benefits you claim will benefit HIllary Clinton . . . give me the link for it, as well as a link that she wants to raise taxes by 60% . . . .if there is “barely a law she has not broken as a politician,” then why haven’t 20 years of investigations and tens of millions of taxpayers dollars resulted in any charges, trials or convictions . . . I sure hope no one ever plays fast and lose about the facts of your life; your entire rant is simply that–a rant . . . and as long as you’re bringing up Trump’s “childish way of expressing” his ridicule of a person with a disability– it wasn’t childish, it was bullying, and every child with disabilities in this country knew it and felt it . . . Trump never lost billions when he started out–if I’m wrong show me . . . Trump, elected or not, has done so much damage to this country and its noblest traditions, that it will not recover in my lifetime . . . and God only knows what deals Donald and his former campaign manager have made with Putin–probably why he won’t show us his taxes . . . but his former campaign manager is currently under investigation . . . how long before Donald too . . .and adreamer2, there is so much YOU aren’t aware of, it could fill a library!

      • Clinton is the one who voted for/supported every war we are in. Not Trump. He did NOT make fun of anyone with disabilities; he used that tone of speech many times in many scenarios quoting other people. Hillary Clinton SUPPORTED and voted to build a wall as a Senator from NY, and finally he did not break any laws regarding taxes, whereas the Clinton foundation is under federal investigation for doing just that.
        The American people would sooner he be in charge than she; you make it sound like nuclear warheads are on a video game joystick.
        Everything she has done has been a failure, more than just emails. Bengazi. Afganistan. Egypt. Syria. Russia. Watergate. Defending and laughing about a man who raped a 12 year old girl. Stealing Vince Foster files. Stealing furniture from the White House. A tax plan taht will raise taxes over $1.2 trillion dollars. Her failed health care initiative. Voting for Trade Deals she campaigned against after recieving donations. The list goes on.

        Blind people see the difference between a failed woman riding on her husbands apparent sex appeal/rock star status who sold out the security of her nation to amass personal wealth of over 250 MILLION dollars, 30 million of which while acting as Secretary of State.

        Get real people; she is a disaster. Stop being ignorant and recognize the great stakes involved. The MEDIA makes MONEY with access to the government. That is why they support her overwhelmingly. Trump = policies of freedom, Clinton = policies of servitude.

        • Trump = Continued White Christians Only Privilege; especially for males; Clinton = Women, Men, LGBT, Christians and non-Christians, Asians, Latinos, African Americans all have a seat at the table.

      • You have been brainwashed by the media lies. You evidently do not have the brains to do do your own research. For example, don’t you think it’s odd that for such a bad person who is 70 years old that you never heard the media say one bad thing about him until he started running for President. Don’t you think it’s odd that such a person as you described has created a large successful organization. not sure why I’m wasting my breath on someone that writes as if they have half a brain..

        • ” . . . created such a large successful corporation”–LMAO!! A $14 million dollar loan (in 1979 money) from Daddy, at least 6 bankruptcies–for casinos no less, a near-billion dollar loss in a single tax year, and this is what you call creating a large successful corporation? Where’d you get your degree, Trump University?

        • Where have you been, Anonymous . . . his first wife, Ivana accused him of rape, which only after being put under financial threat, did she later withdraw but Donnie still took the Fifth Amendment 93 times in his divorce proceedings from Ivana . . . it was all in the paper at the time . . . how about all his serial bankruptcies . . . also in the papers at the time . . . and there’s a lot more. What I want to know is, how does one get to be 70 years old and be a self-proclaimed billionaire and not be noted for his philanthropy. Silicon Valley billionaires are far younger and are already legend with their philanthropy. Your statement just proves that Trump supporters are blatantly ignorant of history.

      • I would say the wall would also have a big wall so people can legally come into the country. As far as war look at what she has caused as SOS.LOOK AT THE CORRUPTION OF THIS CURRENT ADMINISTRATION!!! FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!! The problem with her emails is the fact she conducted government business with this administration that can be hidden from the freedom of information act. She could have been making deals for her foundation using her high position to enrich herself. People are not insane because they want government for and by the people.

    • Are you an 8 year old? The president can’t just run over and push a button and start a nuclear war. I swear liberals are like children. They live in fantasy land.

      • Apparently, you don’t know about “the codes.” Visit Airforce One at the Reagan Library, and then you’ll know how quickly a President can start a nuclear attack!

  2. Are you seriously showing SC as a solid blue on your map, or is this a mistake? Polls are clearly showing SC as either solid Trump or leaning Trump. And NC you are giving to Trump? I do think he will win there, but polls have been showing it as a toss up or slightly leaning Clinton.