If President Biden believes he has the home-state advantage in the key swing state of Pennsylvania going into the 2024 election, he’s not paying attention.
While Biden may have been born in the Keystone State, new voter data reveals that, as of Dec. 18, more than 35,000 Democrats — 35,589, to be exact — have ditched their party and re-registered with the GOP so far this year.
In contrast, Newsweek reports, “15,622 registered Republicans have switched their party affiliation to Democrat.”
“There were also 20,908 former Democrats and 18,927 former Republicans who are now unaffiliated with either party,” the outlet adds.
It’s a net loss of 19,967 Democrats and a huge blow to Biden, who only won the state by roughly 80,000 votes in 2020.
Erik Telford, a senior vice president of public affairs at the Commonwealth Foundation, says the numbers should have alarm bells ringing for Team Biden and the Democratic party.
“Current voter registration trends and polling in Pennsylvania should be setting off alarms for President Biden and Democrats at the state and national level, with pocketbook issues remaining the top concern of voters who overwhelmingly feel that things are headed in the wrong direction,” Telford told Newsweek.
According to Newsweek:
A December poll conducted by the Commonwealth Foundation shows that Biden’s approval rating among Pennsylvania voters has remained underwater by double digits throughout 2023, with his disapproval rating reaching its highest level, 61 percent, in the foundation’s tracking this year. Biden’s approval among Democrats remains significantly higher than among Republicans, 72 percent to 9 percent, but is still lower than the national average. A Gallup survey released last Friday shows Biden with a 78 percent approval rating among Democrats nationally.
The Commonwealth Foundation poll also found that while roughly a third of registered voters said they would vote for Biden in 2024, 46 percent said they would refuse to vote for him in the general election, including 15 percent of Democrats who vowed not to back him. Another survey, conducted by Emerson College last month, showed that almost 75 percent of Pennsylvania Democrats would vote for Biden in a hypothetical 2024 matchup with former President Donald Trump but 10 percent would vote for Trump, while 30 percent remain undecided.
To the state’s victor, Pennsylvania’s prize is 20 electoral votes, the fifth most of any state in the union.
To put that into perspective, between 1932 and 1988, only two presidential candidates made it to the White House without Pennsylvania’s backing, and, according to Newsweek, “no Democrat has been elected president without the state since 1948.”
It was former President Donald Trump who broke Pennsylvania’s 24-year-long blue streak in 2016.
In 2020, after a great deal of campaigning in the state, Biden managed to flip “a couple of counties that swung from former President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016, performed better than Hillary Clinton in parts of Trump country and scored big with suburban voters,” Newsweek reports.
But three pivotal Pennsylvania counties that played a big part in Biden’s 2020 win — Allegheny, Bucks, and Westmoreland — now represent the largest net losses for the Democrats.
“In Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, 3,817 Democrats switched their registration to Republican,” according to Newsweek. “In Bucks County, 1,131 Democrats switched their registration to Republican. And in Westmoreland County, 1,169 Democrats switched their registration to Republican.”
Political consultant Jay Townsend believes that “every vote” in Biden’s home state is crucial.
“If I were involved in the Biden campaign, I’d be asking a lot of questions, and doing all in my power to reverse this trend,” he told Newsweek. “Biden does not have to win every swing state, but he can ill afford to lose Pennsylvania. Every vote will matter.”
The Democratic National Committee (DNC), meanwhile, remains confident that it will once again be victorious in the state.
“The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has had a sweeping victory for Democrats in the 2023 election cycle,” a DNC spokesperson told Newsweek. “Since [state] Senator [Sharif] Street took leadership in 2022, the PA Dems have invested significantly in the party structure, providing unprecedented resources at every level.”
Indeed, the Democrats have recently won a 5-2 majority in Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court, now control the state’s House, and have a Democratic governor in Josh Shapiro. And who can forget the two Democrats the state sent to the U.S. Senate — a first in 70 years?
“This unparalleled and strategic approach allowed Democrats in urban and rural areas to flip local seats, secure the party’s majority on the PA Supreme Court, and add more Democratic voices to the statewide appellate court benches,” the DNC stated. “The trends are clear, Democrats are invested in their future and with wins across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We will be hard at work next year to make sure we re-elect President Joe Biden and Senator Bob Casey.”
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