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Pennsylvania is expected to be a key swing state in this upcoming presidential election, and as a result, many are pushing students to vote in Pennsylvania.

Credit: Ananya Chandra

Pennsylvania is a major swing state in the 2016 presidential election and throughout Penn’s campus, numerous advocacy groups have been urging students to switch their registration to the Keystone State.

The entire election could boil down to Pennsylvania, according to election analysis from The New York Times, where Clinton currently leads Trump by 10 points per an Oct. 9 Marist College poll. That reality has emboldened Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff to swarm prospective voters with reasons to switch their voter registration to their college address.

The makeup of Penn's student body is also disproportionately composed of students from states where there is hardly a debate over which candidate will win. Outside of Pennsylvania, which routinely is the most popular home state for new students, the Class of 2019 consists of 314 people from New York, 251 from New Jersey and 202 from California. All three states’ electoral votes are expected to go to Clinton by a wide margin.

“This election will set the course of our country for generations to come and we at Penn have an opportunity to cast a ballot in a pivotal state in not only the presidential contest, but in a race that will determine the balance of power in the Senate,” Penn for Hillary said in a statement.

But Pennsylvania, often considered a swing state despite voting Democratic in the last six presidential election cycles, is tight this year.

The shifting demographics of the 2016 electorate make Pennsylvania more of a litmus test for Donald Trump, who trails rival Hillary Clinton among college-educated white voters, who in past elections have not uniformly supported Democrats.

“This movement is changing the electoral map,” political science professor Dan Hopkins said. “States like Colorado and Virginia with a lot of college-educated voters, who might in another year vote Republican — those states are harder for Donald Trump to win. That means that Pennsylvania is likely to be the tipping point state.”

The tipping point state means that if you rated all of the states from most pro-Trump to the most pro-Clinton, it’s likely that Pennsylvania would be right in the middle, which would grant either candidate the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the election.

Since Pennsylvania is more secure for the Clinton camp than other swing states, it’s unlikely that Clinton will lose Pennsylvania and win either Florida, Ohio or other states to make up for the necessary electoral votes.

In recent years, Pennsylvania has been shifting right in the political spectrum. Western Pennsylvania is driving the state’s rightward drift — once dominated by steel towns and union Democrats, the region has reveled in a fracking and natural gas boom that has more recently experienced a downturn and has revolted against Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

However, Philadelphia and its well-educated, white-collar suburbs are still trending blue. In 1992, Bill Clinton took 59 percent of the vote in the eight counties that make up the Philadelphia media market. In 2012, Obama took 63 percent. But the rest of the state accounted for 58 percent of all votes in 2012 and is now trending red even faster.

There is also a tight senatorial race between Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty. McGinty holds a slight advantage currently, with a 50.1 percent chance of winning the election according to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight.

Democrats only need to win five seats in the upcoming election to regain control of the Senate.

Hopkins says that people should register to vote in whatever state where the election is most important to them, whether it’s federal, state or local.

“I think that the state in which people register to vote should depend on what elections they think are important and where they think their vote will be most decisive,” Hopkins said. “If people are more interested in having a key impact in the federal races, on who wins the presidency and who controls the U.S. Senate, then registering to vote in Pennsylvania is a reasonable thing to do.”

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