Wargaming the Electoral College: Pennsylvania or Bust for Joe?

AP Photo, File

Before we get started today, let me go back on the record one more time to say I'm in complete agreement with my friend and colleague Stephen Kruiser that there's no way Donald Trump will win Pennsylvania by a big enough margin to overcome Philadelphia's midnight ballot gnomes. 

Those gnomes got caught with their pants down in 2016 but, as we saw in 2020, aren't about to make that mistake a second time. Or maybe they just couldn't bring themselves to make the effort for Hillary Clinton. Bill, you can be sure, knows how they feel.

But I digress.

Despite my firm belief that the midnight ballot gnomes will come through once more for Joe Biden, on this edition of Wargaming the Electoral College, we have to take a good, hard look at what's going on in the Keystone State — the keystone, as the Wall Street Journal's William Galston put it on Tuesday:

A detailed Marist College survey, conducted June 3-6, helps explain why Mr. Biden trails in a state that he carried by 1.2 points four years ago. He performed better in 2020 than Mrs. Clinton did in 2016 in the suburban “collar counties” around Philadelphia, contributing to the 19-point advantage he enjoyed over Mr. Trump in this vote-rich area. Today, however, his advantage in these counties stands at only 7 points, trailing Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 performance. In the poll, 50% of voters in the Philadelphia suburbs said they plan to vote for Mr. Biden and 43% for Mr. Trump.

Trump leads Biden in Pennsylvania by 3 points, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average and, as Galston wrote, "If Joe Biden loses Pennsylvania, Donald Trump will almost certainly win the election."

Let's look at that map, as unlikely as I believe it to be. 

Ariz., Ga, Nev., and N.C. look increasingly like locks for Trump. If he takes Penn., too, that puts him over the top at 287. Biden could sweep the Upper Midwest contest states — Mich., Minn., and Wis. — and still come up short. 

For what it's worth, at least for now I've started including Minnesota in the battleground states. PJ's own Matt Margolis reported this week that Trump is up by 18 points in Iowa, forcing RINO Meghan McCain (she has me blocked on X!) to admit that "There is no scenario where Trump wins Iowa by 18 points but loses Wisconsin." 

If Wisconsin is a lock, Minnesota might just be in play. Surely, Trump could afford to put it in play.

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And that brings us full circle back to Pennsylvania's midnight ballot gnomes. 

Minnesota and Wisconsin together are worth a skosh more than Pennsylvania is in the Electoral College. While Biden and his cronies are busy keeping Slow Joe within the margin of cheating in the Keystone State, Trump should be working on winning hurting union guys and threatened hunters in the Upper Midwest — and he has been. 

Even with Pennsylvania, Biden likely needs to sweep the Upper Midwest battlegrounds, just to eke out a 270-268 victory.

With the South and the sane parts of the Southwest almost certainly going Red, the battle will be fought in traditionally Blue states — with traditional Democrat voters that broke for Trump in 2016 but came back home for Biden in 2020.

They got burned badly by that poor decision, and those disaffected Dems are Trump's to win again.


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