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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

PA’s Complex Demographics Trending Blue

Apparently the media image of Pennsylvania as the emblematic “white working-class” state is somewhat over-stated, according to William H. Frey and Ruy Teixeira in their “The Political Geography of Pennsylvania: Not Another Rust Belt State,” a Brookings Policy Brief published this month. This is not to say that white workers are not a large and important constituency, explain the authors. But the tagging of PA as a “rust belt” state is highly simplistic, given the surging populations of minorities — especially Hispanics — along with white college graduates, in the eastern and south central regions of PA.
Teixeira and Frey point out that white workers are still very much a thriving demographic in the Harrisburg and Allentown areas. But they also note that a growing “upwardly mobile” segment of the white working class, defined as having ‘some college education’ is an increasingly influential constituency that tends to favor Democratic candidates. The GOP still dominates in the declining western part of the state, but the east is blue, lead by the Philly ‘burbs and has delivered state-wide wins for Democrats in the last four presidential elections.
The Brookings report provides the best demographic analysis of the PA battleground yet published and paints an encouraging picture for Dems looking toward November. This one is required reading for reporters who like to know what they are writing about, as well as the Clinton and Obama campaigns

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