AP NEWS

Pennsylvania Still Keystone

May 20, 2019

Republicans and Democrats alike recognize how crucial Pennsylvania will be in determining the 2020 presidential election. If Pennsylvania returns to the Democratic column (where it was, twice each, for President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama), President Donald Trump could not lose Florida, for example, and retain the presidency. Without Pennsylvania, he couldn’t win unless he won two out of three among Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina (all other states going as they did in 2016). If Democrats can win Pennsylvania, their chances of booting out Trump improve substantially. That’s good news for former Vice President Joe Biden, born in Scranton, and decades-long senator from Pennsylvania’s next-door neighbor Delaware. There is a reason Biden kicked off his campaign Saturday in Philadelphia. In the Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, Biden in a hypothetical general-election match-up against Trump would win by 11 points, 53% to 42%. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would win by seven points and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., by three; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., essentially would tie Trump; and Beto O’Rourke would lose by two points. Despite a good economy, Pennsylvania voters disapprove of Trump’s job performance by 54% to 42%. Nonwhite voters disapprove by a 74% to 23% margin. Women disapprove 62% to 34%. Turning to the Democratic primary, “Biden leads ... with 39%, followed by Sanders with 13%, Harris and Warren with 8% each, Buttigieg at 6% and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey with 5%. No other Democratic contender tops 2%.” One big reason is that 61% of Democratic voters think Biden has the best chance; only 6% think Sanders does. Biden leads by substantial margins among somewhat liberal and conservative Democrats, women and Democrats over 50. These fit the description of “dependable voters.” Biden’s pitch in other states’ primaries that Democrats won during the Obama era but Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 is likely to be the same: I can win these states because whites, blacks, women, seniors, et al. know and trust me. He’ll be able to say he’s already gotten under Trump’s skin and will drive him around the bend (well, farther around the bend in the general election). And for those Democrats craving normalcy, getting on track on progressive priorities (e.g., equality for the LGBTQ community, fighting climate change, reducing income inequality) Biden can say, You guys know me. I know how to deliver. It’s not radical or scintillating, but then, the rest of the mainstream media have figured out the party doesn’t resemble the Twitter universe and has a bunch of older and middle-of-the-road voters. When you understand that, you can see why Biden is doing as well as he is. Biden might be doing especially well in his birth state, but he’s pretty much dominating everywhere. JENNIFER RUBIN writes for The Washington Post.

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