Micek: Pennsylvania an electoral keystone again

John L. MIcek
John Micek, editorial and opinions editor for PennLive/The Patriot-News.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. – The line at the Carroll Township municipal building started in the Board of Supervisors' ornate meeting room and snaked out into the lobby.

At high noon on Tuesday last week, voters flooded in to cast their ballots in three undeniably hot races: the GOP primary fight and two, fiercely contested local legislative races.

But it was The Donald — and his chances in a crucial battleground state — that was on the minds of many Republican voters here.

That includes Fred Feldman, a registered Republican and 52-year-old IT worker, who was voting Trump.

"He has the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton," in November, said Feldman, who described himself as a lifelong — and "disillusioned" — Republican.

"We've had the House and Senate for four years and we've done nothing to stop the liberal agenda that they've pushed down our throats."

Trump, he said, would be a welcome antidote.

"He's not a politician."

Jason Schaffer, 40, a small business owner, said he'd been undecided in the GOP nominating fight earlier in the day.

He finally decided to vote Trump, calling him "the lesser of five evils."

Like Feldman, Shaffer thinks the New York real estate magnate is the GOP's best chance at defeating Clinton in November.

Ditto for Roger Sipe, a 62-year-old account rep from suburban Harrisburg, the state capital.

"We need a change," he said. "Our political leaders have let us down. The system needs to be woken up."

Trump's tough talk on immigration was among the stances that Sipe said prompted him to support the Manhattan real estate magnate.

"We tried for a change," under Barack Obama, he said. "The change was not necessarily a good one."

Buoyed by voters like Feldman, Shaffer and Sipe, Trump romped to victory in Pennsylvania, carrying all 67 of the state's counties. Exit polls showed his support cutting across all demographics, including evangelicals, who were thought to be friendly to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump's win handed him all 17 of Pennsylvania's Republican National Convention delegates.

The state has 71 in total, but 54 ran on the statewide ballot Tuesday as "uncommitted," to any candidate. Many have said they'll back the winner in Pennsylvania's 18 Congressional Districts.

Trump's win here Tuesday was also confirmation that Pennsylvania's Republican old guard, moderate and establishment-leaning, had been pushed to the sidelines.

"This is a place that has never been warm to Republicans who are outside the box," Christopher Borick, political science professor and pollster, at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. said,

"But (Pennsylvania is) not a bastion of radical politics or politics that are outside the norms," Borick continued "It's not the tradition of Pennsylvania. It's an election that says a lot about how far the GOP has moved, not only in the country, but in Pennsylvania."

As expected, Pennsylvania Democrats also turned out in waves for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who handily defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton carried Pennsylvania in 2008 in her close fought primary contest with President Barack Obama. Former President Bill Clinton won here in 1992 and 1996.

That was far from the case Tuesday night, as a cheering throng packed Clinton's victory party at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. And with the win, Clinton's march to a coronation here during the Democratic National Convention in July seems assured.

Doris Reynolds, 53, voted for Clinton. Abortion rights, she said, was one of the issues that pushed her to the polls on Tuesday morning.

"I'm worried about who the next Supreme Court justice will be," she said. "If we get a conservative court, who knows what will happen?"

And when it comes to November — Reynolds, like Wright, is voting Democrat, no matter who's on the ballot.

"I'm afraid of Donald Trump," she said.

John Micek is the opinion editor and political columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.