That Pennsylvania is a battleground state is a myth. I’ve heard this since 2004, and while 2004 was close, it hasn’t been close since. McCain spent a lot of time and effort on Pennsylvania, only to get clobbered. I doubt you’ll see Pennsylvania go red in a Presidential election again, at least for the foreseeable future. So it’s probably good to see Mitt not taking the bait and fighting for Pennsylvania. There are other states that will swing this election, and it’s not going to be us. Sorry Ohio, you’re going to get it twice as hard this year.
The trend I think is based on two factors. One, Clinton took a lot of the fiscal and economic issues that made the suburbs generally Republican off the table, and fought culture wars instead. George W. Bush just continued that trend. So the ring counties around Philadelphia are a lot more Democratic than they were in a decade ago. The rest of the state has portions which have a very long tradition of voting Democratic, even though their values don’t likely align with the far-left agenda of the Democratic Party. But voting habits are hard to change. With the suburbs shifting, if PA is to ever to go red again, the parts of the state that are not Philadelphia are going to have to vote more like Tennessee than West Virginia. There are signs that’s starting to happen, but while that’s happening, the Philadelphia area is growing while the rest of the state depopulates, and it is becoming more blue. The Republicans are going to have to figure out how to survive here, in the suburbs, if they want a shot at Pennsylvania again.