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#US_Politics : Donald Trump is the latest Republican trying to win the battle for Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH — Once again, Pennsylvania Republicans are hopeful headed into a presidential election — though their optimism has gone unrewarded for more than a quarter century.

Donald Trump at an airport near Pittsburgh.(Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP) 
Donald Trump is the latest Republican trying to take Pennsylvania — which the party hasn't claimed since George H.W. Bush in 1988 — believing that anxiety about the economy and "bad trade deals" will flip the Keystone State into the GOP column.

"You got wiped out, folks," Trump told a cheering crowd at the airport in Pittsburgh over the weekend, the heart of steel-and-coal country. "I hate to tell you, but you got wiped out."

Trump will likely do well with blue-collar workers in western Pennsylvania, analysts said, but faces challenges with voters in eastern Pennsylvania, such as the Lehigh Valley and the Philadelphia suburbs.

"He does much worse with college whites, especially college educated white women," said Varad Mehta, an independent scholar who lives in Bucks County, Pa.., and is studying the election. "And there are a lot of them in the Philadelphia suburbs."

Trump also hopes his emphasis on trade, immigration, and blue-collar voters will help him in Midwest states like Ohio — no Republican has won a presidential election without the Buckeye State — and Michigan, which, like Pennsylvania, has gone Democratic in the last six presidential elections.

The presumptive Republican nominee is also trying to make an issue of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying her environmental policies will kill off Pennsylvania's coal industry.

"She's not winning Pennsylvania, let me tell you," Trump said.

The New York businessman is also emphasizing national security issues in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, especially in light of the weekend attack in Orlando that took place shortly after Trump's visit to the Pittsburgh area.

State Republican chairman Rob Gleason said Trump has a "movement" that is attracting new people to the party, including disaffected Democrats, while Clinton is "a non-starter with so many people."

Local Democrats beg to differ, saying that Trump's insulting rhetoric toward women, minorities, and rivals in general will elect Clinton and other Democratic opponents up and down the ballot.

Josh Levitt — a spokesman for Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty, running against incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — said :who knows" which groups Trump will insult, but "what we do know is that Pat Toomey will back Trump, regardless of what the presumptive GOP presidential nominee says."


At the airport rally near Pittsburgh, supporters of Trump said his message and style might make the difference in Pennsylvania, despite its Democratic leaning in recent elections. Trump backers cited the frustrations of the middle class with both the economy and President Obama's administration, and questioned whether Clinton could carry the state.
"He says what everyone is thinking," said Diane Frazier, 60, a semi-retired business analyst who lives in Moon Township, Pa. "He senses the anger."


For a seventh straight election, Republicans are trying to return Pennsylvania to what they see as its GOP roots. Starting with the rise of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, GOP candidates dominated presidential elections in the state for some 70 years.
Then came the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt and his revamped Democratic Party won Pennsylvania four straight times.
Post-FDR, Pennsylvania became a classic swing state, oscillating between the parties up to the senior Bush's win in 1988.
In the decades since, Pennsylvania, while electing many Republicans to statewide office, has become a Democratic state at the presidential level. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama carried it twice, while Al Gore won in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
The reasons can be found in places like the Lehigh Valley, around the city of Allentown, and the Philadelphia suburbs. Many voters in these areas lean conservative on economics and could be amenable to Republican candidates, but have turned away from GOP presidential candidates because of items ranging from the Iraq War to the rise of the Tea Party to social issues like abortion rights and gay marriage.
"You cannot win Pennsylvania without winning the Philadelphia suburbs and the Lehigh Valley," said Terry Madonna, a political scientist and Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.
Madonna noted that, in 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney swept the "mining and mill" counties on southwestern Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. But Romney, like both Bushes and John McCain, lost Pennsylvania to President Obama by around five percentage points, one of the closest results in the country. 

This year, however, Madonna said "Pennsylvania stands a very good chance of being competitive," thanks to worries about unemployment, stagnation of wages, and the future of heavy industry. "You do have angst and rage that exists within the electorate as a whole," Madonna said.
Mehta, who describes himself as a "Never Trump conservative," said the New York businessman may do well in the steel-and-coal areas around Pittsburgh, but it may not be enough to overcome the influence of the Philadelphia suburbs."He's got to do it in the Philadelphia area," Mehta said.
The greater Pittsburgh region has more than 1.6 million registered voters, Mehta noted. The greater Philadelphia area has more than 2.7 million voters, including 1.7 million in four surrounding "collar counties."
Trump backers said his approach is different, and heralds a new era both nationally and in Pennsylvania. Young people in particular are unconcerned that the state has not gone Republican in a presidential year since 1988.

"I don't go back that far," said Marissa Collier, 34, a staff accountant for an oil field company in Pittsburgh. "I was born in 1982." 
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