US presidential race 2016
To be the resident of a swing state is to be enormously popular in an election year. In the last week, Pennsylvania, one of the nation's 13 founding states, has had both presidential candidates drop by. Vice President Joe Biden was by turns folksy and dramatic (gesturing to a military aide carrying the nuclear codes) as he stumped for Hillary Clinton in the town where he was born, Scranton:
A few days earlier, Donald Trump, who appears hell-bent on piling up outrage a little bit more very day, accused the other side of cheating before the event. Here's an excerpt of the NPR report from the Trump campaign event in the city of Altoona on Friday night:
'The only way we can lose, in my opinion — I really mean this — in Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on,' Trump said. 'We have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.
Back in May on FiveThirtyEight, David Wasserman did a deep dive into Pennsylvania's voting history and found a state at war with itself; while Philadelphia is becoming bluer, the rest of Pennsylvania is trending Republican. Wasserman noted:
In 1992, Bill Clinton took 59 percent of the vote in the eight counties that make up the Philadelphia media market; in 2012, Obama took 63 percent. But the rest of the state accounted for 58 percent of all votes in 2012 and is trending red even faster. In 1992, Clinton took 53 percent outside of the Philadelphia media market. In 2012, Obama took just 45 percent.
This growing cultural distance between these two Pennsylvanias — some would say Philadelphia vs. 'Pennsyltucky' — points to long-term problems for Democrats.
Of course, that was three months ago (equal to about three years in this campaign). In recent weeks, polls suggest Clinton has consolidated a lead in the state, even though its men still favour Trump.
One gets the feeling the beleagured folk trying to get Trump elected are now operating in some weird white-is-black parallel universe where the more the candidate goes off the range, the more they talk discipline, sounding for the all the world as if they had control.
There was this from Andy Reilly, a GOP county chairman in Pennsylvania:
When it comes down to policy and Trump's policy, he will win. He just has to show some discipline. It's not unexpected what he's done because he's not a politician, he's a businessman who thinks common sense first. Hopefully he'll get his sea legs and bring the Republican Party together.
Uh huh. So that's why we are feeling queasy watching Trump perhaps? Sea sickness?
And then this from conservative commentator Michael Medved who thinks Trump can still win come 8 November, as long as he triumphs in Pennsylvania (along with Ohio and Florida) and successfully defends North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona. Medved added that this outcome 'will depend on Trump delivering a substantive, dignified, credible performance in televised debates'.
After the latest slew of Trump behaviour, it's hard not to agree with one of the commenters who cited the above and concluded, 'Wow. I guess it is hopeless'.