Party switch­ers look to flip Penn­syl­va­nia

Clinton loses blue-col­lar vot­ers to Trump in cru­cial cor­ners of Rust Belt

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

PITTS­BURGH | Re­tired electrician Dave Es­tadt, a reg­is­tered Demo­crat who lives in the suburbs of this solidly Demo­cratic city, said he grew more cer­tain in re­cent days about vot­ing for Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump — but he is not there yet.

Vot­ers such as Mr. Es­tadt are help­ing Mr. Trump sig­nif­i­cantly cut into Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clinton’s poll lead in the cru­cial Key­stone State.

“I don’t agree with every­thing he says, but I don’t agree with any­thing Hil­lary says,” said Mr. Es­tadt, 64. “She’ll be a con­tin­u­a­tion of Obama. I think he’s been an ab­so­lutely hor­ri­ble pres­i­dent.”

Like many other vot­ers this year, Mr. Es­tadt called it a choice for the “lesser of two evils.”

The race has tight­ened in Penn­syl­va­nia, and both can­di­dates have poured re­sources into the state, which is the linch­pin of Mr. Trump’s bid to build sup­port among blue-col­lar vot­ers to carve a path through the Rust Belt to the White House.

A win in Penn­syl­va­nia, with its 20 elec­toral votes, would be the most likely way for Mr. Trump to cob­ble to­gether the 270 needed to win the pres­i­dency. Con­versely, it’s the most likely place for Mrs. Clinton to stop him.

Mrs. Clinton’s lead in Penn­syl­va­nia shrank to 3 points, 44 per­cent to 41 per­cent, in Muh­len­berg Col­lege/Morn­ing Call poll re­leased last Sun­day, a 6-point drop form her lead a week ago.

The for­mer sec­re­tary of state’s lead was a nar­rower 2 points, 40 per­cent to 38 per­cent, in a four-way race that in­cluded Lib­er­tar­ian nom­i­nee Gary John­son at 8 per­cent and Green Party nom­i­nee Jill Stein at 3 per­cent.

Other polls have shown Mr. Trump clos­ing in on Mrs. Clinton, but the Muh­len­berg Col­lege/Morn­ing Call sur­vey was the most dra­matic shift yet in Penn­syl­va­nia.

“No ques­tions about it. There is def­i­nitely a move­ment to­ward Trump among non­tra­di­tional Repub­li­can vot­ers,” said Char­lie Gerow, a Repub­li­can strate­gist based in Har­ris­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia. “That’s off­set by a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Repub­li­cans, at least in Penn­syl­va­nia, to whom Trump still hasn’t made the sale.

“Penn­syl­va­nia is still up for grabs, but Penn­syl­va­nia is al­ways an up­hill climb for the Repub­li­can can­di­date. It was for Ron­ald Rea­gan, who car­ried the state twice,” he said.

Mr. Trump has the best chance of any re­cent Repub­li­can can­di­date of turn­ing Penn­syl­va­nia red for the first time since 1988 be­cause of his strength in the Demo­cratic strong­hold around Pitts­burgh in the south­west and around Scran­ton in the northeast.

In 2012, Mr. Obama won the state by tak­ing Al­legheny County, which in­cludes Pitts­burgh, with 56 per­cent of the vote, and Lack­awanna County, which in­cludes Scran­ton, with 63 per­cent of the vote.

Mr. Trump built sup­port among bluecol­lar vot­ers in those ar­eas partly with prom­ises to make smarter trade deals and bring back man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. The mes­sage has gained fa­vor with other can­di­dates as vot­ers re­spond en­thu­si­as­ti­cally to Mr. Trump’s tough talk against jobs moving to China and Mex­ico.

Ed Pape, 38, a lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cian in the Pitts­burgh sub­urb Wilkins­burg, said he switched his party af­fil­i­a­tion from Demo­crat to Repub­li­can be­cause of Mr. Trump.

“I like Trump. I ab­so­lutely can’t stand Hil­lary Clinton,” he said. “They’ve been cor­rupt since they started in Arkansas.”

In the Muh­len­berg Col­lege/Morn­ing Call poll, about a third of the sup­port­ers for Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump said they were vot­ing against the op­po­nent rather than for their can­di­date.

Both can­di­dates continued to suf­fer from high un­fa­vor­able rat­ings. Mr. Trump had a un­fa­vor­able score of 61 per­cent, and Mrs. Clinton was at 55 per­cent in the sur­vey.

Those high un­fa­vor­able rat­ings, how­ever, could keep as many vot­ers home Nov. 8 as drive vot­ers to the polls to reg­is­ter their op­po­si­tion.

“Prob­a­bly come Novem­ber, I’m not vot­ing for any­body. I think Hil­lary is a crook, and I think Trump is a hot­head,” said Jay Krz­naric, 37, a reg­is­tered Demo­crat in Al­legheny County who works as a pri­vate se­cu­rity su­per­vi­sor.

“No ques­tions about it. There is def­i­nitely a move­ment to­ward Trump among non­tra­di­tional Repub­li­can vot­ers. That’s off­set by a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Repub­li­cans, at least in Penn­syl­va­nia, to whom Trump still hasn’t made the sale.” — Char­lie Gerow, a Repub­li­can strate­gist in Har­ris­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A win in Penn­syl­va­nia, with its 20 elec­toral votes, would be the most likely way for Don­ald Trump to cob­ble to­gether the 270 needed to win the pres­i­dency. Hil­lary Clinton’s lead in Penn­syl­va­nia shrank to 3 points, 44 per­cent to 41 per­cent.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.