What happened? Experts on how Pa. turned red for Trump

November 11, 2016 GMT

In a startling loss to Democrats and to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President-elect Donald Trump swept Pennsylvania on Election Day.

Although Clinton won 82 percent of votes in Philadelphia and Trump 15 percent, the businessman was able to overcome by more votes throughout the Commonwealth, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation website.

Statewide, Clinton won 47 percent and Trump had 48 percent, turning Pennsylvania red. Libertarian Gary Johnson won two percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein won .82 percent.


Trump picked up about a quarter of a million more votes than former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did in 2012, said Pennsylvania State University Political Science Professor Eric Plutzer.

“I suspect that detailed analysis will show that the increase was due to increased turnout among white working class voters throughout the state, including the suburbs,” Plutzer said. “Yet, had Clinton matched (President Barack) Obama’s vote totals in the state, she would have won. While Trump supporters were mobilized, many former Obama voters who might have leaned to Clinton did not make it to the polls.”

Information regarding African-American turnout in Philadelphia was not immediately available on Thursday from the County Board of Elections.

However, a CNN exit poll released on Wednesday found 88 percent of African Americans nationwide voted for Clinton and 8 percent voted for Trump.

Nobody saw this coming, believes Chad Dion Lassiter, a national expert on race relations and president of Black Men at Penn at the University of Pennsylvania, a civic advocacy group.

“Not the pollsters, the analysts or the pundits,” he said. “Bernie Sanders was the better candidate. I thought (Pennsylvania) was a little bit more progressive and liberal, but you’ve got some folk in our region and folk in the center of Philadelphia who support the white ideology of Donald Trump.”

Political expert Jay McCalla argued, “Pittsburgh and Philly, those were a gift from Blacks. When dealing with white people in the suburbs, she failed.”

McCalla, once deputy managing director under the administrations of former mayors John Street and Ed Rendell, said Clinton claiming she carried hot sauce in her purse, reaching out to Mothers of the Movement and even relying on First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama to campaign for her, just wasn’t enough.


“(Clinton) demonstrated that she really didn’t understand the country,” McCalla said. “This is a post-Occupy world, a post-Bernie (Sanders) world, a post-Black Lives Matter world. You don’t nominate a 70 year-old woman who makes millions for a speech. She’s out of touch.”

Clinton raised so much money, McCalla said, and intimidated potential Democratic candidates, that ultimately her party was forced to nominate her.

“She had a 47-percent negative rating,” he noted. “She was under FBI investigation. How did we think this was going to turn out?”

In a statement released after Election Day, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel L. Groen said the party wished the the results of the election were different.

Plutzer said factions within the party will echo different narratives.

Republican strategist Randy Robinson said Trump spoke to white, working-class Americans, and on Tuesday they proved they were listening.

“Black people have survived a lot in this country,” said Robinson, who didn’t vote for either Trump or Hillary, but instead wrote in a candidate.

“We can survive four years of a potentially bad president,” he assured. “We’ll be Ok. We’ve survived a lot worse.”