Can Trump Turn Pennsylvania's Disaffected Democrats Into Believers By November? Donald Trump argues his route to the White House runs through traditionally Democratic states such as Pennsylvania. But it's not clear the Keystone State will make that large an impact this fall.
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Can Trump Turn Pennsylvania's Disaffected Democrats Into Believers By November?

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Can Trump Turn Pennsylvania's Disaffected Democrats Into Believers By November?

Can Trump Turn Pennsylvania's Disaffected Democrats Into Believers By November?

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

To take the White House, the apparent Republican nominee, Donald Trump, will have to win over traditionally Democratic states like Pennsylvania. It hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. Trump is banking on disaffected Democrats this year. NPR's Scott Detrow went to Scranton, Pa., to learn whether Trump has a shot at pulling it off.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: It's a Thursday night, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are the taking on the Pawtucket Red Sox. Mike Zuby is here to watch the New York Yankees AAA affiliate, but he's wearing a Trump T-shirt.

MIKE ZUBY: I got a Pennsylvania-for-Trump shirt on. Make America great again.

DETROW: And people keep coming up to high-five him or ask where they can get a similar shirt.

ZUBY: See. Here we go. There's a Trump guy right here. You like the shirt?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Absolutely love the shirt.

DETROW: That's just fine with Zuby. He operates a Facebook page for Scranton area Trump supporters, and he's thrilled Trump did so well in this region in last month's primary. In Luzerne County just south of the stadium, Trump carried 77 percent of the vote. Ask Trump supporters at the ballpark what they like about him, and person after person says the same thing as Zuby. Trump's not a Washington guy.

ZUBY: I mean, what a breath of fresh air to be able to wake up and at least know that someone's out there, the average and ordinary type of guy. He's not just a billionaire. He's speaking with total un-, you know - political correctness. And he's speaking exactly what we want to be saying to this big monster called Washington.

DETROW: The Trump campaign hopes to win Pennsylvania by riding a wave of working-class votes. They think they can turn out a whole lot of Republicans in north, central and western Pennsylvania and flip a lot of blue-collar Democrats too. But here's the thing about Pennsylvania. Democrats have a million voter edge over Republicans when it comes to voter registration.

CHRISTOPHER NICHOLAS: At the end of the day, I just don't think there's enough angry, old white people in Pennsylvania to make up for the fact of what Trump is doing on the other side to motivate the Democratic base. I hope I'm wrong.

DETROW: Christopher Nicholas is a longtime Republican strategist. Nicholas says in presidential years, Democratic turnout in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh can be nearly impossible for a Republican candidate to overcome.

NICHOLAS: You know, if you come out of those two places down more than 525,000 votes or so, the math just doesn't add up in the rest of the state.

DETROW: And former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell says he's confident urban Democrats will show up in droves this year.

ED RENDELL: You know, there (laughter) - there's an old saying in politics that hate is a more powerful emotion than love, or fear is a more powerful emotion than love. I think Donald Trump will produce the turnout.

DETROW: But the Hillary Clinton ally does worry Pennsylvania could be a close contest. He thinks a lot of suburban Republicans may flip to Clinton because of Trump's out-of-the-box behavior. But Rendell thinks Trump does have a chance to win over of lot of disaffected Democrats.

(CROSSTALK, APPLAUSE)

KEVIN STEELE: Got it that time.

DETROW: Voters like Kevin Steele, who's watching the RailRiders game from the left-field stands. Steele says he spent hours volunteering for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

STEELE: I like her as a person. God, I love her as a person.

DETROW: But this time around, he's backing Trump. He shows off a selfie from a Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre.

STEELE: Also, like, right here he gave me a picture and autograph too because I asked so nicely.

DETROW: Steele says he's worried about immigrants entering the country illegally. He's worried about ISIS and Syria. Steele gives a whole range of reasons why he likes Trump, but just like Mike Zuby, the guy in the Trump shirt, Steele says he's tired of politicians.

STEELE: Like I said, for Hillary, I mean no disrespect. I love the lady as much as possible. But I think in this day and age right now, we desperately need Trump.

DETROW: And to win Pennsylvania, Trump desperately needs to flip a whole lot of people like Kevin Steele because that's the only way he can overcome the Democrats' million-voter advantage. Scott Detrow, NPR News.

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