With Donald Trump creeping up on Hillary Clinton in the national polls, attention has rightly turned to the state-by-state fights, where the battle for the Electoral College will ultimately be fought. What both sets of primaries have thus far shown is Trump’s strength and Clinton’s weakness in the Rust Belt states, which tend to have high concentrations of less-educated, working-class whites, and among whom the election will either be won or lost. Paul Sperry at the New York Post has the numbers:
Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be so quick to write off her recent string of Rust Belt losses to Bernie Sanders. While they won’t spell an upset in the Democratic primary, they do portend similar losses in the general election to Donald Trump, who has a wide lead over her on the issue of handling jobs and the economy.
Exit polls in West Virginia and Indiana show Democratic voters see jobs and the economy as the top issues facing the country, and they think global trade is hurting American workers. Growing anxiety over the economy, which is softening in President Obama’s final year, propelled Sanders over Clinton in these and other states — and it’s an issue perfectly tailored for Trump’s blue-collar billionaire populism.
The numbers basically boil down to this: if Trump can take Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, he can overcome the Democrats’ advantage in being able to pocket California before a single vote has been cast. And Trump can also make Hillary spend valuable time and money defending places like New York State, where he’ll cream her upstate and force her to defend the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens as well. Ironic that a self-professed billionaire can emerge as the champion of the working man, but it’s that kind of year.
If Pennsylvania Democrats join West Virginia in turning on Clinton, it could be all over for Democrats. It’s not unlikely: The whole Appalachian region — which covers not only West Virginia but portions of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina — has been trending away from Democrats on the local level, as liberals escalate their eco-wars on coal and fracking.
Ironically, Clinton risks losing the blue-collar voters who made up the base of her supporters in 2008 — the same voters Obama maligned as uneducated rubes who bitterly “cling” to their guns and Bibles. Now they’re Trump voters. And they don’t like the economic policies or record Clinton’s inheriting from Obama. The more she defends them, with the same air of indifference as Obama, the more vulnerable she looks.
Karma’s a bitch.