They don’t call it the Keystone State for nothing. Other than Florida, the most momentous swing state in the election tomorrow will be Pennsylvania, which went to Donald Trump in a 2016 surprise. That, along with excruciatingly close wins in Wisconsin and Michigan, flipped the Electoral College and sent Hillary Clinton into a shock defeat — so shocking, in fact, that Democrats spent the next four years refusing to accept the results.
Until today, media polling gave Joe Biden a small but significant lead in Pennsylvania. RCP’s aggregate average of all polls gives Biden a modest +4.3 advantage. Most pundits figured the state was out of reach for Trump, but the Washington Post reports today that Democrats in the state are starting to get déjà vu all over again:
Most Democrats still believe Biden will capture Pennsylvania, and he maintains a modest polling lead there, but their confidence has eroded in recent weeks with emerging signs of a tightening contest in the state, according to elected officials, strategists and party activists. Both sides believe the outcome in Pennsylvania will be crucial in determining who wins the White House.
The causes of Democrats’ anxiety are varied. They worry about potential trouble with mail-in ballots during a pandemic. They are concerned about the prospect of a voter surge in White, rural areas favorable to Trump and signs of lower-than-anticipated turnout among the Democratic base.
They are nervous about GOP efforts to place limits on voting. They cringe at the recent looting and violence in Philadelphia, which Trump has seized on to portray Biden as weak on crime and hostile to police. And they harbor lingering concerns about Biden’s muddled rhetoric on oil and gas, which has prompted inaccurate attacks that he advocates ending fracking.
“I am worried about Pennsylvania,” said Neil Oxman, a veteran Democratic strategist based in the state. Oxman cited several concerns, including the possibility that Trump’s base “will come out just a little bit stronger than our base.”