Since the 2016 presidential election, Keystone State Republicans have gained as many as 198,000 registered voters, while Democrats have added an additional 29,000, Politico reported.
While the number of Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 750,000 voters in Pennsylvania, they have seen a drop in registered voters by two percentage points since Trump’s win four years ago. Republican Party members meanwhile have seen an increase in that timeframe, from 38 percent to 39 percent.
Pennsylvania is regarded as an important battleground state where Trump won by a narrow margin in the 2016 presidential election by about 44,000 votes, beating rival Hillary Clinton by less than one percentage point.
“Look, the president won our state by 44,000-plus votes in 2016,” Lawrence Tabas, chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party said, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We have since picked up and narrowed the gap between us and the Democrats [by 135,000]. So we were already ahead 44,000, and look what we’ve picked up. I predict we’re going to narrow the gap further between now and November.”
According to Politico, GOP voter registrations have surged in three critical areas in the state—Erie, Luzerne, and Northampton counties—which previously helped Trump flip Pennsylvania in 2016. The largest net gains were made in the state’s Luzerne, Westmoreland, and Washington counties.
Counties that have seen a registration boost for Democrats include suburban areas near Philadelphia, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery.
Many Republican Party officials credit the president himself and his campaign’s in-person canvassing efforts for narrowing the gap, Politico reported. The campaign team of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has alternatively been holding some local in-person events to sign up voters alongside the DNC’s virtual rallies due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Trump on Sept. 3 held a rally in Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County, which played a key role in the 2016 election. Trump had 63.5 percent of the vote in the country over Clinton’s 32.5 percent, a margin of about 56,800 votes.
During the packed rally in Latrobe, the president raised concerns over the viability of universal mail-in ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Trump’s re-election campaign has sued to prevent the use of drop boxes in the state over voting fraud concerns.
The president called on voters to go to the polls in person after mailing in their ballot to check that their vote has been counted. He appeared to hint that mail-in votes are susceptible to being thwarted or manipulated.
“Sign your mail in ballots, okay. You sign it, send it in, and you have to follow it,” Trump said at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, the venue for the rally.
He continued, “And if on election day or early voting that [vote] is not tabulated and counted, you go vote. And then if for some reason after that—it shouldn’t take that long—it [the mailed vote] comes in, they’re not going to be able to tabulate it because you will have [already] voted.
“You have to make sure your vote counts, because the only way they’re going to beat us is by doing that kind of stuff. I’m trying to be nice,” Trump said.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.