Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Pennsylvania brings protest votes to center stage

By 37ci3 Apr26,2024

Beneath the surface A mostly sleepy, boring, low-activity indicator of Pennsylvania On Tuesday, there was a trend that has dogged Joe Biden and Donald Trump across the country for the past month: significant protest voting.

However, this time, the candidate who attracted more attention due to the opposition they faced was not the current one, but the former president.

While Biden faced an organized protest campaign from left-wing critics of his Israel policy and military campaign in Gaza, Trump received about 36,000 more protest votes than Biden. Moreover, Pennsylvania is the only state to hold closed primaries after Biden and Trump nominated their parties, meaning only registered party voters could vote for their party’s presumptive nominees.

That was especially notable on the Republican side, after Trump allies had previously attributed the state’s protest votes to independents and Democrats, who were able to pass and vote in open primaries as opposed to repeated intra-party coups.

More than 163,000 Republican voters voted for Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, or dropped out of the presidential race last month or submitted a write-in ballot. On the Democratic side, at least 127,000 voters either voted for or went to the polls for Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who ended his presidential bid last month.

To be clear, the voters who emerged on Tuesday — when several contested races were on the ballot — are very different from the coalitions that emerged in November. But in a state where Biden won by about 80,000 votes in 2020 and Trump won by about 45,000 in 2016, each candidate’s ability to bring their internal opponents back to the fold, or at least prevent them from joining their opponents, could not be overstated.

JJ Abbott, a Democratic strategist from Pennsylvania who worked for former Gov. Tom Wolf, said Tuesday’s results give an idea of ​​”the damage Trump still has to undo within his own party.”

“I certainly believe that President Biden has some work to do with some of his base as well,” Abbott said. “But I think it really makes it more difficult for Trump. “Trump has a lot of damage control that doesn’t draw attention to some of the challenges that Biden is trying to address.”

Trump’s campaign believes reports of the protest vote have been exaggerated by his opponents. For starters, recent polls in Pennsylvania, including the April survey, have shown a tight race there. Fox News and Bloomberg/Morning Consultwhich also showed Trump leading in almost every other contentious battleground. State and national surveysIncluding the latest NBC News poll, nearly 9 in 10 Republicans support Trump in the general election, up from 83% of those who voted for him in Tuesday’s Pennsylvania GOP primary.

There was also internal frustration within the Trump campaign over Pennsylvania’s vote counting and final tabulation — which gave an initial appearance that the anti-Trump protest vote was significantly larger than the anti-Biden vote.

And according to a senior Trump official, when Biden opened campaign offices, Trump’s team had yet to spend any money — on the ground or in the air — for the Pennsylvania primary. Advertise on TV.

“We did not use anything. We have not done anything,” said this person. “We haven’t spent a nickel in Pennsylvania, nothing. What they achieve is the biggest difference [36,000] more voices of protest, if you want to call them that.

The person said it will still take time to figure out who makes up the Haley-til-we-die coalition that voted for the long-gone Republican primary — how many are 2020 Biden voters, how many will go home to Trump in November and how many still need to be convinced. .

“Looking at the economic and inflation indicators, it won’t be difficult to vote for Donald Trump in November,” a senior Trump official said. “And the campaign in Pennsylvania has yet to be judged.”

Caroline Leavitt, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, said Trump “won a major victory in Pennsylvania,” adding that “the dishonest Biden campaign spent millions to enlighten voters in Pennsylvania.”

But Democrats say the Trump campaign’s limited efforts in Pennsylvania so far are part of the reason Biden is doing better there now.

Plus, they say, they’re the only party that should face an active, organized effort that actually gets voters to write in “non-loyalty” ballots, while the GOP side hasn’t organized to get voters to vote. Haley.

“The difference is that the Biden campaign is doing what it takes to unify the party, at least in Pennsylvania, building local infrastructure, opening offices, getting people out, having conversations,” Abbott said. adding, “The last time Pennsylvania Republicans won a major state election was in 2016. Trump needs to rebuild a coalition that no one has been able to do since 2016, including Donald Trump in 2020.”

“Warning Sign”

Both Democrats and Republicans said where those votes are cast is also important. In the collar counties around Philadelphia — the core suburbs where presidential elections have been contested for a generation — Haley won between 20% and 25% of the vote, well above the statewide total of 16.5%. He also swung by about 20% in Erie County, the state’s top swing state, and in Lancaster County, a Trump-leaning county that the Biden campaign aims to destroy this fall.

“I think that’s a warning sign,” said one Republican strategist from Pennsylvania, noting that Sen. Bernie Sanders still has a large share of the primary vote after dropping out of the race against Biden in 2020. .

“I don’t think this is the end. But if you’re the Trump campaign, you’ve got work to do in the suburbs,” the strategist continued, adding, “A lot of them are going to vote for Trump.”

NBC News spoke to two Haley voters in Pennsylvania in the primary day – and their responses reinforced that point. One of them, Jim Nixon, said he would vote for Trump in the fall and denounced the criminal trial the former president is currently facing in New York, calling it a “kangaroo trial.” Another, Joan O’Donnell, said she voted for Biden in 2020 but will vote for Trump this time — unless he is convicted.

Allegheny and Philadelphia counties, home to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, received the largest share of the Democratic vote. Depressing turnout among Democratic constituencies could have a disastrous effect on Biden’s ability to win.

“I think the Democratic Party is at least a little more unified,” the Republican strategist said. “But then again, it’s all fixable.”

Former Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., said the protest votes take on added significance given how slim the margin of victory was in both 2020 and 2016. Rothfuss said Trump’s 83% of the vote would normally be considered a landslide victory.

“In many of these rural counties, 10% or more voted against Trump,” he said. “It should be like 98% territory.”

Ultimately, Rothfus said it was Biden who was most worried about the protest vote, pointing to the ongoing Democratic divide over how the war between Israel and Hamas turned out.

But another factor that makes Democrats feel good about voting against Trump in the GOP primary is that recent electoral history has shown that a significant portion of Pennsylvania Republicans are open to voting Democratic. Republican turnout was high in Pennsylvania in 2022. The party’s problem was that too many Republicans voted for Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro and Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa.

Opt out It showed Shapiro winning 16% of Pennsylvania Republicans and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, just 3% of Democrats. (in 2020(The cross-party voter split was nearly evenly split between Biden and Trump.)

“There is a real group of Pennsylvanians, in this case registered Republicans,” said one Democrat working on the state’s 2022 campaign effort. “And that’s a really important piece of the puzzle for November.”

Biden’s campaign issued a memo touting the results after Tuesday’s vote, writing that the former president’s “general election problems are getting worse,” with campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa calling Pennsylvania key additional evidence that he “doesn’t have the path to coalition building.” Win 270 electoral votes.

The Trump campaign responded to his memo Thursday, saying Biden had “a lot of problems,” including with the Democratic base.

“There is a lot of divisiveness in the White House,” wrote Trump campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles. “There is disagreement over Biden’s handling of the situation in Israel, where the majority of Americans support Israel’s right to self-defense. There are radical workers in the United States and elsewhere in the world who promote pro-Hamas positions and are in regular contact with those who spread anti-Semitic messages.”

Others still thought the whole ordeal was for naught. Lou Capozzi, the GOP chairman in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, where Haley won more than 21% of the Republican primary vote, said he thought the focus on anti-Trump and anti-Biden protests was overblown.

“Honestly, I don’t take much from it,” he said. “At the end of the day, those people will be back on the bench.”

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By 37ci3

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