County by county, Trump led crimson tide through Pennsylvania

Listen
 Leslie Springob (center) and Kean McLelland (center left), students at Kutztown University,  celebrate as the  GOP incumbent Pat Toomey is declared the winner in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

Leslie Springob (center) and Kean McLelland (center left), students at Kutztown University, celebrate as the GOP incumbent Pat Toomey is declared the winner in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

Donald Trump’s path to victory in Pennsylvania came down to a handful of counties with excruciatingly close returns. Trump’s success in Lehigh County, and in other contested swaths of the state, helped him become the first Republican presidential candidate to win Pennsylvania since 1988.

The white-knuckle wait for returns concluded with Trump’s defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by 1 percentage point.

His wins in contested counties secured him the slender victory; in Lehigh, Trump won by about  7,100 votes.

Republican voter Jeff Zimskind, an immigration attorney in Allentown, said Trump’s win was reminiscent of Britain’s rejection of the European Union, known widely as Brexit.

“I think it’s exactly parallel. I think it’s a big middle finger to a lot things,” said Zimskind, who attended a rally in Allentown for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who defeated Democrat Katie McGinty on Tuesday. 

He said Trump’s appeal with white working-class voters wasn’t accidental.

“I think the concerns of those who gave the middle finger have be taken into consideration more now maybe than they were in the past,” he said.

Leslie Springob, a 19-year-old student at Kutztown University, voted for Trump, saying the president-elect’s blunt pronouncements cut through the noise and demonstrated that he’s not afraid of tough talking. Springob said the country needs that.

“The thing that really riled up the electorate is [Trump] speaking what’s on peoples’ minds, of getting that instant reaction,” he said.

In Springob’s age bracket, Clinton did have an advantage nationally, but Trump still captured more than a third of voters under 30.

Another Lehigh Valley voter, Karen Reiss, said one issue in particular drove her to vote.

“Definitely pro-life. Conception. That’s where life begins,” Reiss said.

When she realized Trump won, she was thrilled.

“We need something new here. We need something back,” she said. “Bring back America!”

toomey watch party 05Karen Reiss celebrates the victory of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and president-elect Donald Trump at Toomey’s election night party in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY) 

Zimskind, meanwhile, said the fact that stock markets rallied the day after Trump’s win is another way he was reminded of Brexit.

“Over there, the markets tanked and everyone foresaw doom, and then after a week or two, things started to stabilize as people thought about, ‘All right, how is this actually going to work,’ he said. “We shall see.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.