Both parties are increasingly focused on the pivotal — and potentially messy — role that Pennsylvania could play in deciding the outcome of the presidential race.
President Trump’s campaign in recent days has redirected ad spending there from other northern battlegrounds, while Joe Biden’s campaign and supportive groups are increasing their spending in the state, which between its rolling rural expanses and major metropolitan hubs is seen as a classic political bellwether.
Both sides now see Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral college votes, as a must-win prize on the path to the 270 needed to win the White House, according to Democratic and Republican strategists. They also increasingly view the battle for those votes as one that could well continue beyond Election Day — with a growing list of balloting disputes and lawsuits setting the stage, if the race is close, for a contested election reminiscent of the Florida drama that transfixed the nation after the 2000 election.
Not only is Pennsylvania allowing anyone to vote by mail in a general election for the first time, but all the state’s polling places also have new voting machines, and the rules that govern the vote have been shifting in recent weeks, as the two parties in a state with divided government battle in the courts on multiple fronts.