- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2016

No state is more important to Donald Trump’s chances of winning the White House than Pennsylvania, and — unlike any Republican presidential in the past 20 years — he actually has a chance to win it.

In the Scranton-Wilkes Barre section of the state — up Interstate 81 in the northeast part — Mr. Trump is so popular that businesses are actually advertising their support of his candidacy.

Mr. Trump is popular enough here [Lackawanna County] that local businesses, like a roofing company that planted its signs around town, are including their support for him on their own advertisements,” The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Donald Trump is resonating with the people here, and that’s not only Republicans. It’s Democrats, it’s union people, it’s independents,” Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican, told The Journal.

In order to pull off a Pennsylvania upset, Mr. Trump needs to convert Democrats, those who last voted for President Barack Obama, to cast their ballot for him. In Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton and its surrounding areas, there are twice as many registered Democrats as there are Republicans.

But some anecdotal evidence suggests Mr. Trump may have a shot.

Bill Kristol, the conservative pundit and editor of the Weekly Standard who has been against a Trump presidency, even marveled at the possibility in his newsletter this week.

After describing a waitress in Cleveland who said she voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 but was voting for Mr. Trump because she didn’t like Hillary Clinton and thought Mr. Trump was strong leader who identified with people like her, Mr. Kristol said a friend sent him the following email:

“I just overheard the bartender here at Chili’s in downtown Philly (late 20s, white, female) say: ‘I know what my opinion is, I’m voting for Trump, I can’t vote for Hillary.’”

She said this to a black dude (in his 50s) sitting at the bar who agreed wholeheartedly with her! They then continued to banter about locking up criminals and government waste. Not sure what planet I’m on right now…” Mr. Kristol quoted the email, and then added: “We could be on a planet in which Donald Trump becomes president.”

In Pennsylvania, 80,674 Democrats have switched their party affiliations this year to Republican, compared with 28,522 Republicans who have become Democrats, according to the latest data from the Pennsylvania Department of State — meaning these crossover Democrats do exist.

Still, it’s going to be an uphill climb for Mr. Trump. A Suffolk University poll released this week, had Mrs. Clinton at a 9 point lead in a two-way matchup with Mr. Trump, with Mrs. Clinton at 50 percent and Mr. Trump 41 percent, with eight percent still undecided.

According to the pollsters at FiveThirtyEight, if Mr. Trump loses Pennsylvania, his electoral map gets much harder. He’d have to win five swing-states — Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada — to have a shot at the White House.

However, if he can win Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump has a “fairly straightforward” path to the White House, said pollster Nate Silver.

“Look, I think that Trump basically has two paths right now,” Mr. Silver said in an analysis for the New York Times on what states Democrats should fear losing the most. “One is to win Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. If he does that, he’s on the cusp of victory — he would just need 10 more electoral votes, which would probably come from North Carolina or Iowa and New Hampshire. This isn’t an easy path, but it is a fairly straightforward one if he can win Pennsylvania.”

And that’s why you see Mrs. Clinton making her move in the state.

She nominated Tim Kaine as vice president in an effort to appeal to the moderate Democratic base, and held a rally there after her convention, promising more investment in the nation’s infrastructure, and the return of industrial and manufacturing jobs — echoing Mr. Trump’s populist messaging.

Her campaign also pulled its advertisements in Colorado — in an indication she thinks she has a stronghold in the state — and started to advertise in Pennsylvania, where Democrats typically never invest this early in the campaign cycle.

Bottom line? Mrs. Clinton knows Pennsylvania’s up for grabs and poses an opening for a Trump presidency.

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