On Monday night, the final night to make his case to voters before the election, Joe Biden and his campaign went big — and they went to Pennsylvania.
They weren’t just in one city, either. In a livestream, the Biden campaign toggled back and forth between a drive-in rally at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, headlined by vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, and a similar, simultaneous event across the state in Pittsburgh, where Biden himself headlined.
Speakers at both rallies ran the gamut, from local politicians like Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, to statewide ones like U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Tom Wolf, to celebrities like Lady Gaga and John Legend.
“We will confront, not condone white supremacy and fight for economic justice, no matter your zip code or your race,” she said. “And Pennsylvania, we will begin the work of healing.”
Roughly 12% of Pennsylvania’s population lives in Philadelphia.
And more than any other county in the commonwealth, Black voters — who make up about 44% of Philly’s population — drive the city’s electoral outcomes.
Four years ago, when Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania by a hair, Black voters’ turnout in Philly was slightly lower than it had been for Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008, but it didn’t drop off as much as it did in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee and Cleveland.
Instead, Pennsylvania’s most notable change was unexpectedly high turnout among white voters in the formerly blue northeastern and western parts of the state.
This cycle, Biden seems to be doing better among those white voters than Clinton did. But at the same time, Trump appears to be making up ground among groups Democrats tend to think they have on lock: Black and Latino voters — especially men.
When she took the stage in Philadelphia Monday night, Harris likely had those poll numbers in mind. She assured the supporters, who were mostly sitting in their cars honking instead of cheering, that while traveling across the country, she has felt that “something is happening.”
People, she said, have been “wearing their colors and strolling to the polls,” a reference to Alpha Kappa Alpha (of which Harris is a member) and other Black sororities.
In both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Biden and Harris were introduced by non-politician residents of those cities. In Pittsburgh, the focus was on organized labor — Biden was introduced by John Duffy, a business agent Laborers Union Local 1058.
At Citizen’s Bank Park, Kenny Duncan, who owns Mane Attraction Unisex Salon in West Philly, introduced Harris. After telling the crowd they need to “put more soul into our nation,” he talked about his daughter.
“When my daughter had a chance to watch Kamala Harris at a vice presidential debate, she became an additional role model for my daughter,” he said. “She handled that vice presidential debate with grace.”
Harris focused a lot on President Donald Trump’s handling of COVID-19. Biden, she said, would have a plan to contain it — a plan that includes bolstering the Affordable Care Act instead of replacing it.
“We’re looking at over nine million people who have contracted the virus, and we know it’s hitting communities of color the hardest,” she said. “Latinos are contracting COVID at three times the rate of others, Black folks are dying at twice the rate of others.”
Trump, she concluded, “failed to lead.”
The president has also been visiting Pennsylvania often in the final days of the campaign. He made four stops across the state on Saturday, concentrating on the Philadelphia suburbs and counties where his results were unexpectedly strong four years ago.
On Monday, he traveled to Biden’s birthplace, Scranton, for one of five rallies. The others were in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Polls in Pennsylvania have tightened slightly.
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