Pennsylvania is not a swing state in an important sense

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

There is some slim chance that Pennsylvania could vote Republican. Same with Minnesota. But that doesn’t mean these two states really matter.

Let me make a distinction: There are some states that can swing either way, but only in blowout elections. You could call them “swing states” because they swing back and forth, but they’re not “swing states” in another sense, because they don’t swing the election.

Look at Indiana. Four years ago, Indiana voted Democratic. I still wouldn’t call it a “swing state.” It may have swung, but it never was going to be the margin of victory for a Democrat.

Similarly, it’s hard to see Romney winning Pennsylvania, but losing Ohio or Colorado. If Romney wins Pa., it will be part of a big Romney win. If Obama wins North Carolina, it won’t be his margin of victory — it will be part of a 320-electoral vote romp.

Such is Pennsylvania for Romney. Can you imagine Romney winning Pa. but losing Ohio? Compare the Senate races of 2010. Rob Portman and Pat Toomey are basically the same guy. Portman won Ohio by 18 points. Toomey won Pa. by 2 points. No Republican presidential candidate has carried Pa. since the 80s.

If Romney wins Pa. or Minn., he will already have won Fla, Ohio, Va., Co., and N.H. In other words, Pa. or Minn. will not be Romney’s margin of victory.

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