Biden, Trump campaigns laser in on Pennsylvania as campaign heats up

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NewsNation) — Pennsylvania is a critical state that will determine the outcome of the 2024 general election, becoming a focus for both President Joe Biden’s and former President Donald Trump’s campaigns. 

In 2020, President Biden won the state by just over 80,000 votes (1.17%). It’s considered a must-win state for Biden again in 2024, meaning if Trump takes the state in November, he’ll likely be president again. Most recent polling data from The Hill/Decision Desk HQ shows Trump holding a slight lead in the state. 

As both campaigns laser in on the Commonwealth, their approaches have been vastly different.

The Biden Campaign

The incumbent president’s campaign, along with the Democratic National Committee and the state party, has opened 24 offices around Pennsylvania so far and has over 100 staffers on the ground already. Many of these offices — in urban, swing and Republican districts — have been open and active for months. The campaign expects the number of offices to double in the next few months.

“We’re showing up everywhere,” said Brendan McPhillips, a senior adviser in the Biden campaign. “We’re putting real brick-and-mortar infrastructure on the ground. We’re putting hundreds of organizers on the ground, and there’ll be thousands of volunteers working out of these spaces across the state talking to hundreds of thousands of voters over and over again for months.

The campaign’s strategy so far has been to energize the Democratic voter base in support of Biden as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and to chip away at Trump’s margins with Republicans and independent voters. 

“You can’t win Pennsylvania just on Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. You have to do well there, but you have to keep your margins up all across the state,” said Stella Sexton, vice chair of Lancaster County Democratic Committee. “We’re [Lancaster County], I think, the fifth-largest county in Pennsylvania. Population is about 550,000 people. And so we really represent an area where that growth is possible. And we have we are being given the resources to do that.”

Though historically Republican, Lancaster County has become more of a swing county in recent elections. 

Despite polling data favoring Trump, the Biden campaign believes the tides will turn with abortion being a big motivating factor for voter turnout.

“When they’re [voters are] faced with a choice about filling out their mail ballot or walking into the polling place and deciding whether or not they want to continue to have a democratic republic, or just see how long the country survives with the next Trump administration, they’re going to make the rational and values-based choice to cast their vote for the president who ran on bringing the country together, ran on delivering real economic success for people and delivered on both those things,” McPhillips said.

The Trump Campaign

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee has been less forthcoming about office locations and staffing plans. 

“We have many offices open … but we are not revealing campaign strategy and sharing every location across the state. … Our campaign is not confined to offices,” an RNC official said.

In contrast to the Biden campaign, the former president’s team is trying to eat away at urban Democratic margins with Black and Brown voters, revealing an office location in Philadelphia. 

The first public office opening took place last week in Northeast Philadelphia, a whiter, more Republican part of the city, though an RNC official says the area is rapidly diversifying.

McPhillips disputes both the demographics and the idea that Trump will make headway with voters of color. 

“It’s hugely offensive to do an event around outreach to Black voters in one of the whitest and most conservative neighborhoods in the city,” he said. “And then also not have a single Black voter from Pennsylvania speaking at your event, which I think goes to show the complete absence of support for Trump among that community.” 

GOP U.S. Reps. Byron Donalds and Wesley Hunt of Florida were the featured attendees.

Thursday, a  “Latino Americans for Trump” office opened in Reading, which has a large Hispanic population. 

A Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Dave McCormick, and a former governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno, along with Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera, were scheduled to speak at the opening. 

Besides opening offices, the RNC official said Trump is reaching voters in ways “unlike any candidate has been able to do in the past.”

The Trump campaign’s messaging focuses primarily on the economy and safety, citing online public opinion polling by Civiqs as evidence of voter discontent with the current president. 

“With just 35% job approval, Joe Biden is floundering in his home state of Pennsylvania. Between higher gas prices, surging crime, and failed Democrat policies crushing families at every corner, it’s no wonder that Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth are increasingly rejecting the failed Biden agenda and supporting President Trump,” said Karoline Leavitt, Trump campaign national press secretary. 


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