by Nathan Rybner
The swing state of Pennsylvania has always in recent presidential election years been a state of oft political events, massive advertisement spending, and targeted ground campaigns. But is there a way to predict who will win the state?
I have created something called “Nate’s 5 County Test for Pennsylvania” to determine just that. Since 1936, I have determined that every single presidential candidate who has won the Keystone State has won a majority of these five counties: Erie, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, and Northampton.
Except for Erie County, all of them are located in the North-East part of the state.
Lackawanna County is home to Scranton, the setting of the hit NBC sitcom The Office, and the birthplace of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Luzerne County is the home of Wilkes-Barre, the heart of the anthracite coal region which dominated the state’s industry for much of its history.
Monroe County is the home of East Stroudsburg, Tobyhanna, and a multitude of other small towns. The county is the heart of the Pocono Mountains, is home to the Kalahari Pocono Mountain Resort, the largest indoor water park in the United States. Many New Yorkers own vacation homes in this county.
Northampton County is the home of Easton and contains part of Bethlehem, the former home of Bethlehem Steel before its 2003 dissolution.
In 2016, Donald Trump won Erie, Luzerne, and Northampton counties, thus winning a majority of them. He narrowly lost the other two to Hillary Clinton, by a 600 vote margin in Monroe, and a 3.5% margin in Lackawanna.
So who will win Pennsylvania in 2020?
As of right now, the real clear politics average for Pennsylvania sits at +5.1 for Joe Biden.3
But polls have been wrong in the past due to their methodology, but I’ll air my grievances on that topic at another time.
But one way we can figure out how an electorate will change is by looking at the party registration in these counties, and how they have changed in the last 4 years.
In November 2016, Erie county had 97,597 registered Democrats, 67,494 registered Republicans, and 25,131 unaffiliated voters.1 Since voter registration for the 2020 election ended on October 19th, Erie County has 98,552 registered Democratic voters, 73,622 registered Republican voters, and 18,806 unaffiliated voters.2 This represents 6,128 more republicans, and 955 more democrats, or a 5,173 shift to the republicans. Donald Trump won this county in 2016 by 1,957 votes.
In November 2016, Lackawanna County had 91,046 registered Democrats, 42,553 registered Republicans, and 14,505 unaffiliated voters.1 In 2020, that has changed to 85,679 Democrats, 46,630 Republicans, and 12,654 unaffiliated voters.2 This is 5,367 fewer democrats, and 4,077 more republicans, or a 9,444 shift to the republicans. Hillary Clinton won this county by 3,599 votes.
In November 2016, Luzerne County had 108,055 registered Democratic Voters, 74,116 registered Republicans, and 23,161 unaffiliated voters.1 In 2020 there are now 105,998 registered democrats, 85,538 registered republicans, and 20,600 unaffiliated voters.2 This is 2,057 fewer democrats, 11,422 more Republican voters, or a 13,479 shift to the republicans. Donald Trump won this county in 2016 by 26,237 votes.
In November 2016, Monroe County had 51,884 registered democratic voters, 36,339 registered Republican voters, and 21,024 unaffiliated voters.1 In 2020, there were 53,736 registered democratic voters, 39,560 registered republicans, and 15,741 unaffiliated voters.2 This shows a 1,852 increase for the democrats, a 3,221 increase for republicans, or a shift of 1,369 to the republicans. Hillary Clinton won this county by 532 votes.
In November of 2016, Northampton County had 99,075 voters as registered Democrats, 73,473 were registered republicans, and 38,854 were unaffiliated voters.1 In 2020, that changed to 101,981 registered democratic voters, 80,643 registered Republican voters, and 30,476 unaffiliated voters.2 That shows an increase of 2,906 registered democratic voters, an increase of 7,170 registered Republican voters, or a shift of 4,264 voters to the republicans. Donald Trump won this county by 5,464 votes.
I project that Donald Trump will win the election and will win all 5 of these counties in 2020. If I had to choose one of these counties going to Biden, I would pick Monroe going blue.
If President Trump wins all 5 of these counties, I predict he will win the state by roughly 3%. If he wins 4 of them, he will win the state by roughly 2%, and if he wins 3 like he did last time, he will win by roughly 1% like last time.