Democrats Usually Win Pennsylvania, Darlings

Pennsylvania State Shape Sticker Outline WHITE | State shapes, Medication  for dogs, States

As this bizarre election winds on unending, I do begin to wonder at people’s memory. Middle age and even older citizens act as though they never witnessed an election before. Many seem to have forgotten what calling an election actually means, and all manner of misconceptions are being attached to the phrase. They seem to have no recollection that mail ballots are not a recent invention, and that methods for securely vetting them have been with us for some time. But one of the starker blips of recall regards Pennsylvania.

Democrats usually win PA, darlings.

That phrase Blue Wall seems rather permanent, doesn’t it? It has the catchy sort of jingle that is meant to conjure immovability, steadfastness, etc. It was derived from what seemed an unwavering truth… What was it ? That Democrats always win certain states, and among them is PA. Its 30 year history:

  • 1992 – Blue (Bill Clinton)
  • 1996 – Blue (Bill Clinton)
  • 2000 – Blue (Al Gore)
  • 2004 – Blue (John Kerry)
  • 2008 – Blue (Barack Obama)
  • 2012 – Blue (Barack Obama)
  • 2016 – Red (Donald Trump)
  • 2020 – Blue (Joe Biden, final results pending)

It makes me recall that old song from Sesame Street that was imprinted on so many young minds: One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong…

In the more serious formalism of Bayes Theorem, this would be called the prior probability, the odds of an event given what we know from the past. It sets the baseline expectation for the next event. The election of 2016 was the outlier. The odd red win of 2016 might have made a better candidate for conspiracy theorizing. This year was interesting to watch, to determine if the last election represented a real shift, or an odd exception. We are on track to return to the normal toppling of dominoes.

What does this mean at bottom? It means that reflexive suspicion about a blue victory is not reasonable, as a blue victory is the most likely outcome based on the priors. It is not reasonable to think the most likely explanation is fraud, unless we have exceptional evidence of its occurrence. It doesn’t matter if a candidate, or a party, or a media outlet repetitively programmed portions of the population in this direction. Mental programming does not jailbreak anyone of Bayes Theorem. The prior probability establishes the defaults for which expectations are reasonable.

Keep calm, and carry on.


  1. But now you’re using logic and veering dangerously close to math.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do have a weakness for math. Always did really. Lifelong addict. 🙂

      The odd thing right now is that it seems like most everyone has at least some friends or family that are buying the fraud and conspiracy thing. Bizarre times.

      Liked by 1 person

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