Pennsylvania hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988.
Wilkes University political science professor Thomas Baldino said that pattern has a lot to do with the state’s shifting demographics — its Republican population has declined in the last decade or so.
Polls are showing a tight race — and Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are both in the limelight this week. Although he’s skeptical of predictions that the Keystone State will swing right, Baldino said this year there’s a better chance it could really happen.
He said the election is redrawing the usual party lines; in Pennsylvania, that makes it harder to predict where the race will go.
“Trump carried the state pretty handily in the primary,” he said. “What he did that no Republican had done in a long time was pick up votes in my area and in the Southwest, which are the Democratic voters who are white, older, and working-class. And they are angry.”
That anger, he noted, is largely directed at the perceived political establishment, and boils down to a few key issues.
“Some of that, that anger, is directed towards businessmen, who they believe have shipped their jobs overseas,” he said. “Some of it is directed at Obama for ‘selling out America, for making America weak,’ and they’re worried about immigration.”
Baldino, who’s based in Wilkes-Barre, also said the candidates themselves have some power in determining which states are important in the election.
And right now, he noted, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both seem to think Pennsylvania’s the place to be.