With 7 competitive Republican-held seats in Pennsylvania, the state looms large in Democrats' plans to take back the House. The New York Times recently ran a lengthy article about how Democratic hopefuls in the state are running.
Know this about Pennsylvania: it is a white noncollege state. about 56 percent of eligible voters are in this demographic. And it is among this demographic that Hillary Clinton lost the state in 2016, as Trump carried these voters by almost 30 points. Clinton's loss came despite excellent black turnout, which nearly matched black turnout for Obama in 2012 and was actually higher than white turnout in the state.
Reflecting these facts about the state and, of course, the characteristics of the districts they are running in, Democratic candidates are not holding back from courting the white noncollege vote. They are all in, as coverage in the article makes clear.
"[Conor] Lamb speaks of labor rights and economic fairness, in the Democratic tradition, but stakes out more conservative ground on social issues like guns. He begs off questions about national politics, but makes clear that he wants to see Nancy Pelosi replaced as the leader of House Democrats. He observes that “heroin kills both Democrats and Republicans,” the only mention of the D-word on his campaign website’s home page...
In northeastern Pennsylvania, Representative Matt Cartwright, whose district Mr. Trump won by 10 points, is quick to recall Democratic triumphs of generations past, like Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Social Security into law. Like Mr. Lamb, he emphasizes the need to secure affordable health coverage and tend to moldering roads and bridges....
“They voted for the change candidate, and you do that when you are hurting,” he said. “And I try to remind them that it is the Democratic Party that cares about the people who are hurting more than any other party. And I say to myself, I have to redouble my own efforts because these are my people who are hurting.”....
“Two things can be true at the same time: There is xenophobia and nationalism and racist undertones,” said John Fetterman, the longtime mayor of Braddock, outside Pittsburgh, and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. “But there’s also people that are reachable.”
Often, success is as much a matter of emphasis as policy. Rick Bloomingdale, the president of the Pennsylvania A.F.L.-C.I.O., said that despite a “great economic plan” from Hillary Clinton in 2016, the piece of her platform that broke through most was “how awful Trump was.”
“People don’t want to hear you tell them how bad Trump is,” Mr. Bloomingdale said. “They either know or they don’t care.”...
[A] Cartwright campaign worker offered his own pitch....The congressman, he noted, does not support “open borders” or abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an idea that some liberal Democrats have embraced. (Last month, both Mr. Lamb and Mr. Cartwright voted for a symbolic resolution supporting I.C.E.)"
If the Democratic party wins big in Pennsylvania this November--which I think is likely--I have no doubt this "big tent" approach will have a lot to do with it.
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