'The most visited state': Trump, Biden barnstorm Pennsylvania as key state on final campaign weekend

Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
·4 min read

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden agree on one thing after blazing different trails throughout the campaign: both will focus on the key battleground of Pennsylvania during the final weekend.

Trump plans rallies Saturday in Bucks County north of Philadelphia at noon, at airports in nearby Reading at 2:30 p.m. and Butler north of Pittsburgh at 4:40 p.m., and at Montoursville at 8 p.m. He also plans to return for rallies Sunday and Monday.

Biden, the former vice president, rallies Saturday in Michigan for the first time in person on the trail with former president Barack Obama. On Sunday, Biden will deliver a speech in Philadelphia. Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, will “fan out across all four corners of the state” Monday with their spouses, according to the campaign.

Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by less than 1% of votes cast, or about 44,000 votes. The state is among the most important of a half-dozen battlegrounds because its 20 electoral college votes could be the decisive tipping point for either candidate to reach the 270 needed to the White House, according to political experts and party activists.

“We are by far the most visited state in the union by the candidates and their surrogates," said Terry Madonna, a professor who conducts polls as director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “They’re going to the states that are likely to decide the election.”

President Donald Trump supporters and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden supporters square off in front of Penn Place office building in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. The Luzerne County Election Bureau is located inside Penn Place where early walk-in voting has started.
President Donald Trump supporters and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden supporters square off in front of Penn Place office building in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. The Luzerne County Election Bureau is located inside Penn Place where early walk-in voting has started.

Trump campaigned on the country’s energy independence and argued that Biden would hurt production by shifting away from fossil fuels. Trump told a rally Oct. 20 in Erie that Biden would “abolish Pennsylvania energy” and that mining industries would be “totally extinguished.”

"We think Pennsylvania’s looking fantastic," Trump told reporters Friday. “If Pennsylvania didn’t frack, you wouldn’t have Pennsylvania, believe me.”

But Biden says he doesn't want to ban fracking, although he wouldn't allow it on federal land. He seeks to end federal subsidies for oil production while spurring development of renewable energy. As a Scranton native and longtime resident of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said he expected to win the Keystone State.

“With the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors, I’m going to win Pennsylvania,” Biden told reporters in Chester on Monday. “It’s a matter of a great deal to me, personally as well as politically.”

Biden leads Trump in Pennsylvania by 5 percentage points, according to an average of polling through Friday from tracking site FiveThirtyEight.com. Biden led Trump 50% to 44% among likely voters, according to a Franklin & Marshall poll released Thursday. But the race is close.

“At the moment, Biden would certainly be a favorite to win,” Madonna said. “But you can’t rule out a come from behind victory by Trump.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive at a campaign stop at Bucks County Community College, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Bristol, Pa.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive at a campaign stop at Bucks County Community College, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Bristol, Pa.

Trump's support is heaviest in the industrial regions of the southwest and northeast corners of the state, but he also enjoys support among Republican counties across the center, according to Madonna. Biden has focused on urban centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, while also appealing to working class areas, Madonna said.

Fracking for energy production doesn't register as a priority in statewide polling, but it is important in the southwest, Madonna said. That helps explain why Trump has hammered Biden over fracking and energy production.

"He is going to destroy the oil industry," Trump said during their debate Oct. 22. "Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma?"

Biden denied he would end fracking. He proposed to spend $2 trillion over the next decade to spur development of renewable energy, such as by shifting the fleet of federal vehicles from gas to electric.

"I will transition," Biden said. "It is a big statement."

Madonna said Trump continues to lead in counties he won in 2016, but by smaller margins than against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“For Trump to win, he has to do as well as he did four years ago among white working-class voters with high school educations or less," Madonna said. "He’s winning those Rust Belt areas but not the by same percentage as he did four years ago."

"Biden has also made an effort to win those working-class voters in those regions, where Hillary didn’t bother at all," Madonna added. "Biden talked about what he would do for people who live in those areas."

US President Donald Trump throws a MAGA hat into the crowd as he arrives fora Make America Great Again campaign rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, October 26, 2020.
US President Donald Trump throws a MAGA hat into the crowd as he arrives fora Make America Great Again campaign rally at Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, October 26, 2020.

Here is a summary of where the candidates will be campaigning:

Saturday

•Trump to rally voters in Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, Reading and Butler.

•Biden will rally with Obama in Michigan, at drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit.

Sunday

•Biden will deliver a speech in Philadelphia.

•Trump will hold rallies in Washington, Michigan; Dubuque, Iowa; Hickory, N.C.; Rome, Georgia and Miami.

Monday

•Biden, Harris and their spouses will barnstorm Pennsylvania.

•Trump will hold rallies in Fayetteville, N.C.; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Traverse City, Michigan; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump, Biden barnstorm Pennsylvania on final campaign weekend