Trump won 306 electoral college votes on Election Day 2016, 36 more than the 270 needed to win the presidency. (Two faithless electors in Texas brought his final electoral college tally to 304 when the votes were cast during a joint session of Congress in early January 2017.)
Battleground state polls in six states Trump won in 2016 that have a total of 101 electoral college votes (Florida-29, Pennsylvania-20, Wisconsin-10, North Carolina-15, Arizona-11, Michigan-16) currently paint a gloomy picture for his reelection prospects in the November 3 general election less than four months from now.
trails Biden in all six states according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, though it is with within the margin of error in two states (North Carolina, where Trump trails by three points, and Arizona, where he trails by 3.5 points), and slightly beyond the margin of error in the four other battleground states (Florida, where Trump trails by five points, Wisconsin, where he trails by 6.5 points, Michigan, where he trails by 7.5 points, and Pennsylvania, where he trails by 6.5 points).
But a look into long-term voter registration trends in Pennsylvania suggests reason for some optimism by the Trump campaign.
The Democrat voter registration advantage over Republicans has declined steadily since 2008, when it stood at
1.2 million. In 2016, Democrats had a 915,081 voter registration advantage over Republicans in the state.
“One of the keys to President Trump’s Pennsylvania upset in 2016 was the nearly 200,000 voters that had switched parties to vote for him in the Republican primary and general election,” the
York Daily Record reported.
In July 2018, Democrats had an
815,000 voter registration advantage in the state over Republicans, 4,042,928 to 3,227,611.
As of Monday, Democrats have a slightly lower voter registration advantage of 794,000 in 2020, with 4,097,904 registered Democrats and 3,303,427 registered Republicans, according to the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s
In two years since 2018, Democrats have added a net gain of 54,076 new registered voters, compared to a net gain of 75,866 for registered Republican voters.
Though voter registration trends are overall moving in the direction of Republicans, the 2016 phenomenon where more Democrats were switching to the Republican Party than Republicans switching to the Democrat Party appears to have reversed slightly.
Daily Record reported that during the first five months of 2020, “28,137 Republicans and third-party voters have switched to the Democratic party since January. In that same time frame, some 18,937 Democrats and third-party voters have switched to the Republican party.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that further changes in voter registration by party in Pennsylvania are unlikely between now and November:
With five months to go until the 2020 presidential election, COVID-19 has caused voter registration across the country to rapidly decrease despite predictions for this year’s numbers to topple the 2016 election cycle.
Pennsylvania is seeing a steady rate of registrations this year, though.
According to TargetSmart, a Democratic political data and data services firm, Pennsylvania is one of thirteen states seeing a similar number of registered voters compared to March of 2016.
The results of the Trafalgar Group poll released on Monday, which showed that just three percent of likely Pennsylvania voters are undecided in the presidential match-up between Trump and Biden, supports the widely held vies that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania, as in most battleground states, is likely to hinge on turnout.
Voter turnout in the state in the 2016 presidential election was
70 percent of registered voters. In the 2018 midterm elections, where Democrats made significant gains in the state, it declined to 58 percent, which was a record-high in the state for a non-presidential year.