Presidential candidates focus on Pennsylvania as battleground state

Maggie Kent Image
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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With 20 electoral college votes in the presidential election, Pennsylvania is a must-win battleground state, and the political tide could be changing.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With 20 electoral college votes in the presidential election, Pennsylvania is a must-win battleground state for both President Donald Trump and his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"Pennsylvania matters. Some are saying we're the most important state in the country. In terms of electing a president," said Democratic State Senator Sharif Street of District 3.

Voter registration and mail-in ballot applications are exploding.

READ MORE: Mail-in voting: All you need to know ahead of Election Day 2020

"Turnout could be upwards of 60% and typically for a presidential election it's around 50%," said Mustafa Rashed, a Democratic political strategist with Bellevue Strategies in Philadelphia.

Strategists say how people vote also changes by party. Democrats favoring mail-in ballots and Republicans planning to show up at the polls come November 3.

"Democrats understand two-thirds of their voters will vote by mail. On the other hand, three-quarters of Republicans will vote in person. So even how we vote has become so tribal," says Christopher Nicholas, a Republican strategist with Eagle Consulting Group in Harrisburg.

READ MORE: Trump's possible Supreme Court nominees: Amy Coney Barrett considered lead contender, 3 other judges on shortlist

Philadephia has historically voted Democrat. Now, voter registration shows the neighboring counties, including Delaware and Montgomery counties are becoming even more "blue" as well.

A major issue is the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her replacement. It could inspire Democratic voters to turn out or encourage Republicans to take charge of the highest court.

"The stakes of this election have been raised even higher than they were three days ago," said Joe Corrigan, Democratic strategist Edge Hill Strategies.

READ MORE: Jim Gardner and Terry Madonna discuss impact of Justice Ginsburg's death

No matter how you vote, in person or by mail, each strategist agrees, election results may take much longer than years past.

"We're going to have to be patient. We may not know by midnight, we may have to wait until the next day or day after that," said Nicholas.

Some political strategists encourage everyone to vote. Some even expect traditional door-to-door campaigning to return, with social distancing in mind, to hammer that idea home.