Even though the Keystone State hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, Donald Trump knows that winning Pennsylvania is critical to his bid for the White House. That’s why he and his surrogates have spent a great deal of time here.
Although I think polls are almost totally useless because of their unreliability, Hillary’s composite rankings have dropped significantly in the past month, according to Real Clear Politics. Harper Polling [no relation] puts the race at dead even. See http://harperpolling.com/polls/pennsylvania-statewide-poll–11-2-3#PresidentTIE
This state, where I have lived since 2005, is a complicated one. The two main cities—Pittsburgh in the west and Philadelphia to the east—vote overwhelming Democrat. In fact, Mitt Romney failed to get a single vote in a number of Philly precincts in 2012, leading many to suspect voter fraud.
The rest of the state votes overwhelmingly GOP. The governorship tends to shift between the two parties; the current officer holder is a wacko lefty and, alas, not up for reelection. The legislature stands firmly in the hands of the GOP. It tends to be more liberal than most GOP strongholds, but the legislature usually stops most of the silly Democrat plans. Half of the state Senate’s 50 seats are on the ballot this year, and if Republicans can pick up three of them, they would control a veto-proof majority.
The congressional delegation tilts overwhelmingly Republican. The U.S. Senate is split, with one Democrat and one Republican.
Voters will replace a disgraced attorney general, a Democrat who was convicted of perjury; and a Philadelphia congressman, a Democrat convicted of corruption.
The prospects for the GOP, including Trump, look relatively good despite the predictions from the media and their polls. Since November 2015, the Pennsylvania GOP has registered 243,139 new Republican voters. That includes nearly 100,000 people who switched from the Democrat side.
Atlantic magazine published a detailed examination of lifelong Pennsylvania Democrats staunchly supporting Trump:
Paul Sracic, a Youngstown State University political scientist, said he believes there are two categories of voters rallying to support Trump. “First, there are people who don’t normally vote,” he said. “Nearly half the voting-age population was either not registered to vote, or was registered and decided not to vote in 2012. And if even 10 percent of that group was to show up and vote this year, it could easily change the outcome in the important swing states.”
Trump may be helped by these trends, but incumbent Republican Pat Toomey may not be. That’s mainly because he has failed to endorse Trump.
Toomey is running evenly with Katie McGinty, a Democrat who has never held political office but has worked as a political insider in Washington and Pennsylvania. McGinty came in fourth in the Democrat primary for governor in 2014. Her only credentials are heading environmental wacko posts under Barack Obama and working as a lobbyist for wacko environmentalists.
Toomey’s gamble staying away from Trump may, in fact, be a bad move if the less-than-colorful GOP senator loses.
It will be an interesting ride tonight, with the real possibility that Trump could pull off a victory in Pennsylvania even though the GOP may lose a Senate seat.
Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.