This Blue State Could Turn Red in 2016
Pennsylvania has been a blue state for quite some time, but that might be changing. In this video, MSNBC explores Alaquippa, a boomtown turned ghost town, and the notion that Donald Trump's campaign(although never stated explicitly) could turn this red state blue. Is that a real possibility?
It's possible. Polls are all over the place. As RealClear Politics notes, some have Hillary Clinton leading by a wide margin, while others have the two candidates in a virtual tie.
What else might come into play? Two things. First, Trump's promise to shake things up. People in Pennsylvania want a hand up, not a handout, and Trump has promised to put people back to work any which way he can, in a manner that transcends partisan politics. Although the Donald has pegged outsourcing corporations as the culprit, to the joy of every Rust Belt bureaucrat alive, the real blame lies elsewhere. Despite being absolutely desperate for jobs in places like Scranton, Philadelphia, and Alaquippa, Pennsylvania has a pretty terrible tax environment. The Tax Foundation ranks the state 32nd on its Business Climate Index, noting:
Pennsylvania ranks 32nd on the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: corporate taxes (47th), individual income taxes (17th), sales taxes (25th), unemployment insurance taxes (50th), and taxes on property (38th), including residential and commercial property.
These are problematic numbers for a state committed to recovery. A state that desperately needs new industries and small businesses is making it incredibly difficult for anyone who'd like to start one. When faced with these figures, and a Democratic Party promising more of the same, it's easy to see why voters might go elsewhere.
Secondly, due in large part to a booming energy industry(no thanks to President Obama), Western PA is trending red. As Five Thirty Eight's David Wasserman notes:
Western Pennsylvania is driving the state’s rightward drift — its voting patterns now resemble greater Appalachia’s more than those of the Philadelphia suburbs. Once dominated by steel towns and union Democrats, the region has reveled in a fracking/natural gas boom that has more recently experienced a downturn and has revolted against EPA regulations. Obama’s infamous “bitter clingers” remark in 2008 didn’t do Democrats any favors either.
Taking those two things into account, it's easy to understand Trump's appeal to voters who have lost economic opportunities and those who have benefitted from them in "Pennsyltucky." But if Washington Post's David Weigel is to be believed, Trump's appeal also stretches to the state's affluent suburbs:
But conservative Democrats in western and central Pennsylvania had been making that switch for more than a decade. What surprised Republicans was Trump’s dominance in the Philadelphia suburbs, along the old “Main Line” of wealthy towns and the increasingly liberal Bucks County. Trump won Montgomery County by 19 points over Ohio Gov. John Kasich and won outright majorities in Bucks County, Delaware and Philadelphia.
In summary, while the data to this point is unclear, there's a lot to suggest that there's fertile ground for a Clintonian crisis in the Keystone State.