‘Pennsylvania may be the Florida of 2020’: Political expert explains why Biden is focusing up north

While Trump & Biden want Florida’s votes, Pennsylvania has taken some of the spotlight this week

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks after touring International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in New Alexandria, Pa. Biden is on a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania today. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida is widely known as the biggest prize among the swing states. With 29 electoral college votes up for grabs by either candidate, presidential campaigns focus heavily on the Sunshine State.

While President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden want Florida’s votes, Pennsylvania has taken some of the spotlight this week -- featuring the Democrats' political rock star.

On Wednesday, former President Barack Obama was in Philadelphia, asking voters to support his vice president from 2009 to 2017. He addressed a drive-in rally with supporters listening on their car radios.

“I never thought Donald Trump would embrace my vision or continue my policies. But I did hope for the sake of the country that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously. But it hasn’t happened," said Obama, who delivered a speech for Hillary Clinton four years ago in the same city. “But the thing is this is not a reality show. This is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

While Florida is widely known as the biggest prize among the swing states, of late a lot of campaigning by, and for, Joe Biden has taken place in Pennsylvania. Kent Justice spoke with a political analyst about why the VP is focusing up north.

News4Jax asked longtime political and policy pro Chris Hand about the push for Pennsylvania’s votes, as Biden has visited that swing state more than any other during the campaign. He said that “Florida is still critically important, but Pennsylvania may be the Florida of 2020.”

“Well, Florida is always a big deal in every election. Florida has the potential to be decisive, and this election is no different. But if there is another Florida, a second Florida in 2020, it’s the state of Pennsylvania," said Hand, author and former Jacksonville chief of staff. “If Joe Biden were to win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan -- traditionally, Democratic states that President Trump won four years ago -- if Joe Biden wins them in 2020, he’ll be the next president.”

Hand described a different set of factors for Trump, which began with 55 electoral college votes from California -- a virtual lock to go to Biden.

“For Donald Trump, Florida is critical. He cannot get reelected without winning Florida’s electoral votes,” Hand said. “There’s just not a route from here to there to get him back to the White House if he doesn’t win Florida’s electoral votes.”

Florida is still in full view. Vice President Mike Pence will visit Jacksonville this weekend, and Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, was at the University of North Florida on Monday.

And Trump and Biden will meet Thursday night for the final presidential debate.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.