“We’re picking up an awful lot of the folks who used to be Democrats. They’re coming back home,” Biden told a small group of reporters. “They know they’ve been screwed by Trump, but also they’re not sure that there’s the old Democratic Party back looking at them, listening to them, and so I think it’s important.”
Biden made these comments at John Murtha Airport. Murtha, very much a creature of that “old Democratic Party,” represented Johnstown in Congress from 1974 until his death in 2010. The area’s realignment toward the GOP has accelerated during the intervening decade.
In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by less than one percentage point each. All three states had voted for every Democratic presidential nominee in the previous six elections, including the two in which Biden was the vice-presidential nominee, before flipping to Trump. A key factor was that the president really ran up his score in rural areas like Johnstown.
Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes make it one of the most critical battlegrounds, and Biden predicted that over the next month he will be able to win over more Trump 2016 voters in rural counties like the ones he visited on Wednesday. “Even if we just cut the margin, it makes a gigantic difference,” Biden said at the airport named for Murtha. “A lot of White working-class Democrats thought we forgot them and didn’t pay attention. I want them to know – I mean sincerely – that I’m going to be your president. I hear them. I listen to them. I get it. I get their sense of being left behind.”
Exit polls show that Trump won White voters without four-year college degrees by more than 30 points both nationally and in Pennsylvania four years ago. This group accounts for about half of