Political seer Sabato says Pa. ‘leans Democrat’ in critical Electoral College fight | Friday Morning Coffee

June 26, 2020 7:16 am

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would like to win Pennsylvania in 2020 (Capital-Star file)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If we know one thing, we know that there’s nothing that grinds President Donald Trump more than being reminded that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes in 2016. Thus, we’ve been saddled with Trump’s preposterous, and wholly inaccurate claim, that he won a “landslide” victory in the Electoral College.

Which means it’s entirely likely that the nation’s *45th chief executive will be entirely less than thrilled with a new analysis by University of Virginia political seer Larry Sabato and his merry band of wonks showing some seriously bad Electoral College news for Trump in the key states of Florida and Pennsylvania.

Sabato’s ‘Crystal Ball’ crew have moved the Sunshine State from ‘leans Republican‘ to ‘toss up,’ and the Keystone State gets an upgrade from ‘toss up‘ to ‘leans Democratic.’

New York Times/Siena College poll this week showed former Veep Joe Biden, who campaigned in Pennsylvania on Thursday, with a 10-point lead over Trump in the Keystone State.

For the trainspotters, Trump snapped a three-decade-old Democratic winning streak when he carried Pennsylvania in 2016. And because the state awards electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, Trump walked off with all 20 of the state’s electoral votes (one for each congressional district and the two United States senators).

Below, you’ll find a look at the current electoral college topography:

(Source: Sabato’s Crystal Ball)

While that seems to be a pretty good-looking map for BidenCrystal Ball Managing Editor Kyle Kondik reminds us that the former Veep is still shy of the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the White House — but only by a little.

With the shifts for Pennsylvania and Florida, “this means 268 electoral votes are rated as at least leaning to Joe Biden in our ratings; 204 are at least leaning to Donald Trump; and there are 66 electoral votes in the toss-up category,” Kondik wrote.

And, while “Biden is decently positioned, … his current lead may be inflated,” Kondik notes for the good of the order, because, while Biden has not trailed in a Florida poll since mid-March, analysts are still skeptical of his chances of prying Florida away from the GOP.

“Republicans run circles around Democrats in organizing,” Kondik observed. “Even the executive director of the Florida Democratic Party recently told the Washington Post, ‘In Florida we have a history of fumbling at the two-yard line.’ No kidding. To be fair, he then said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to do that this year,’ citing improvements to the Democrats’ organizational efforts and a growing Democratic edge in voters registering to vote by mail. We shall see.”

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 24: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony for H.R.266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, with members of his administration and Republican lawmakers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC on April 24th, 2020. The bill includes an additional $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Programs forgivable loans to cover payroll and other costs for small businesses. Hospitals and other health care providers will receive $75 billion and another $25 billion is allocated for COVID-19 testing. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/POOL/Getty Images)

And what of Pennsylvania? Kondik notes that the “dynamic in the Keystone State is somewhat similar to that of the Wolverine State: Trump was able to squeak by in each state in large part because of great performances in outstate areas.”

Indeed, Clinton did well in the deep blue Philadelphia suburbs and around Pittsburgh. But Trump scooped up the rest of the state’s ruby red midsection, as well as notching surprise wins in such formerly Democratic bastions as Luzerne County, to narrowly carry the state.

As Kondik notes, “the recent changes in Pennsylvania illustrate the larger trends that animate the industrial north — places like Michigan and elsewhere. Trump is hemorrhaging votes among white voters who have a four-year college degree, and who are heavily represented in suburban counties around big cities. That’s why Clinton ran ahead of Obama in much of suburban Philadelphia.”

But “Trump added votes among white voters who do not hold a four-year degree, who are disproportionately represented in more rural/small city areas. A caveat that we’ll make now that we have made before: possessing or not possessing a four-year degree doesn’t say anything about someone’s intelligence, nor does it necessarily say anything definitive about a person’s income (one can be doing well economically without a degree, or be doing poorly with one),” Kondik concluded. “But whether one holds a four-year degree has become a highly salient distinction among white voters.”

In other words, get ready for another summer and fall of street to street fighting.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison
 leads our coverage this morning with a patented Capital-Star explainer that gets you smart fast over the latest fight over gambling expansion in the commonwealth. Will the House and Senate authorize what are known as ‘video gambling terminals,’ in bars, restaurants and taverns across the state? If the last week is any indication, there’s been some trouble drumming up the votes — despite the siren call of easy money.

Stephen Caruso has what you need to know about a ‘Pox on Both Your Houses’ grand jury report by Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office that faults the Marcellus Shale industry for polluting Pennsylvania’s air and water, and a state regulatory structure that failed to exercise sufficient oversight.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: City Council approved a $4.8 billion budget shot through with cuts and layoffs. And confronted with protests and the pandemic, school officials are mulling a late start to the 2020-21 school year this fall.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a school board from York County says schools are taking it on the chin from the pandemic, and the tax hit from charters will be devastating. And Steve Mullen from AFSCME Council 89 in Harrisburg wants the U.S. Senate to pass the HEROES Act.

En la Estrella-Capital: El condado de Erie cambiará ´a la fase verde´ el viernes, incluso cuando los casos y las muertes del COVID-19 continúan aumentando, por Hannah McDonald. Y El Portavoz: El representante del condado de Lancaster Bryan Cutler toma las riendas, por Stephen Caruso.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney 
and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw have apologized for tear gassing protesters on I-676 earlier this month, which is, y’know, good of them. And the officers involved will be fired. The Inquirer has the story.
Doctors in Pittsburgh have documented a case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome in a COVID-19 patient, the Tribune-Review reports.
Former Veep Joe Biden campaigned in Lancaster on Thursday. Local press were barred from the event, but LancasterOnline does the hard work of finding out what he said anyway.
Northampton County District Attorney Terrence Houck has filed a lawsuit against the opioid industry for deceptive business practices, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM has its own analysis of the police reform legislation that cleared the House and Senate earlier this week.
Penn State students are questioning a return to campus planWPSU-FM reports.
City officials in Wilkes-Barre will crack down on a ‘fireworks war zone,’ the Citizens-Voice reports. looks at how states are turning to sin tax hikes to help bolster their bottom lines
Washington sent stimulus checks to dead people, according to a new GAO analysis, Roll Call has the details.You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Happy birthday in advance to faithful reader, and our old pal, Tuck Lentz, of Harrisburg, who celebrates on Saturday.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from the ever-durable The Hold Steady, which kinda sums up where we find ourselves on this final Friday in June. From 2008’s ‘Stay Positive,’ it’s ‘Constructive Summer.’ And while we’re at it, let’s all raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
The NHL isn’t planning to quarantine players during training camps, the Associated Press reports.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.