Despite the fact that no Republican presidential candidate had carried Pennsylvania in a
generation and no other Republican had won a statewide election in five years, Donald Trump
took the Keystone State, beating Hillary Clinton by 50,000 votes. Mrs. Clinton managed to carry only 11 counties in the state, several by razor-thin margins.
Adding to that electoral success was the victory of U.S. Senator Pat Toomey who bested Katie McGinty by almost 90,000 The race was the most expensive and closely watched in the country.
Although they lost the three statewide “row offices,” Republicans also managed to pad their already substantial majorities in both legislative chambers. In the Senate Republicans now have a super-majority 34 seats and in the House Republicans boosted their advantage to at least 122. And any notions about the “inevitability” of Senator Bob Casey’s re-election should be put to rest.
Change beat anything else
Many Democrats believed that a significant demographic advantage would propel Hillary
Clinton into the history books as the first woman president. They didn’t take into account the
“mood” advantage that the Republicans had going for them. Every survey showed that voters
were in a foul mood, angry and clamoring for change. Nearly 70 percent said they thought the country was headed in the wrong direction. That didn’t bode well for a woman seeking to be the third term of the incumbent president. She shopped her extensive resume at a time when voters
wanted anything but. Trump was the outsider. She was the “incumbent.” He won. She lost.
Republicans came home. Democrats stayed home.
In a contest between the two least liked candidates in the era of modern polling, Donald Trump ultimately prevailed because his base turned out while Hillary’s did not. Trump had tremendous senthusiasm going for him. All you needed to do was drive down one of Pennsylvania’s back roads and see the handmade signs boldly proclaiming “Trump.” Meanwhile there was a distinct aura of apathy among Clinton’s base. They didn’t like Trump, but they weren’t so thrilled with her, either.
Donald Trump needed to garner 90 percentof the Republican vote, something no winning GOP candidate had ever failed to do. For much of the campaign he languished in the 70’s, below the level Barry Goldwater received in the 1964 landslide. By mid-October he was in the mid 80’s. On election night he hit 90. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton underperformed among just about every key demographic.
Television advertising doesn’t buy as much these days
Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by nearly 4:1 in television advertising. She hammered away at his main vulnerability–his “temperament.” Her message was ubiquitous. It didn’t work.
It was partially because voters wanted more than simply anti-Trump rhetoric. It was also an indication of the shifts in how Americans receive information and make decisions. Donald
Trump’s 15 million Twitter followers were as big an advantage as Hillary Clinton’s millions of
dollars in advertising.
“Tax and Spend” is a losing message with working families
The Trump and Toomey victories, coupled with the gains Republicans made in the General Assembly here and across America were a clear repudiation of the policies of the last eight years. Obama may be personally popular for the time being, but his policies are not. Nor are those of his political acolytes like Tom Wolf. Although I know they aren’t taking my advice,
another budget containing big government spending and additional high taxes on working
families is a big loser.