See 2012 Battleground States for brief analyses of a dozen key states in the 2012 elections, and predictions as to who could win those states.
How Pennsylvania Votes: Red State or Blue State?
Even though Pennsylvanians have voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections, Pennsylvania is considered a swing state largely because the Keystone state voted Republican for most of the 20th century.
Also, the composition of Pennsylvania demographics... 81.9% white per the 2010 Census... predisposes its population to receptivity to conservative Republican messaging. No Democratic presidential candidate has garnered more than 45% of the white vote in three decades.
"Nationally, Obama won 43 percent of the white vote: 46 percent of white women and 41 percent of white men," reported The Times-Picayune newspaper reported after the 2008 election. Per USA Today about Pennsylvania's 2008 election results, "The candidates split the white vote, but Obama was the overwhelming choice among blacks and Hispanics, according to an analysis of information from voters interviewed as they left polling places."
In the last four presidential elections, Pennsylvania voted as follows:
- 2008 - 55% for Democrat Obama, 44% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 51% for Democrat Kerry, 49% for Republican Bush
- 2000 - 51% for Democrat Gore, 46% for Republican Bush
- 1996 - 49% for Democrat Clinton, 40% for Republican Dole, 11% for Other
Of Pennsylvania's 19 U.S. House of Representative members, twelve are Republicans and seven are Democrats.
Summary of Top Issues in New Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's population is heavily weighted toward white voters (81.9% of state residents), labor union members (16.3% of all workers, 4th highest percentage in the nation), and senior citizens (15.4% of state residents, also the 4th highest percentage in the nation).
As a result, Social Security, Medicare and such working-class issues as minimum wages, healthcare insurance coverage, and middle-class income taxes are top political issues in Pennsylvania.
Liberalization of U.S. immigration laws is not a popular stance in Pennsylvania largely because Hispanics comprise only 5.7% of the state's population.
Pennsylvania Economic Facts and Voter Demographics
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - 7.6%, well below the national unemployment average, and ranking 31st among all states.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - 1 in 1509 homes, significantly lower than the state average of 1 of 583 home in foreclosure, and ranking 37th among states.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 12.1%, which is ranked 28th among states.
Labor Union Membership - In Pennsylvania, 899,000, which is 16.3% of all employed Keystone State workers, belong to an organized labor union, the nation's 4th highest quantity of labor union members.
Senior Citizen Population - 15.4% of Pennsylvania's total population, the 4th highest state percentage of seniors in the nation.
Women as a Percentage of Pennsylvania's Population - 51.3%, which is ranked 9th in the nation, tied with four other states.
African-American Population - 11% of Pennsylvania's resident population, ranking as 20th among all states.
Hispanic Population - 5.7% of Pennsylvania residents are of Hispanic origin, ranking 31st among all states.