Democrats in rural Trump country are using hand signals to find community -- and no longer shy about liking Biden
Joe Biden boards campaign airplane (C-SPAN/screen grab)

Democratic voters in traditionally red parts of the United States who've kept to themselves during election year are now starting to speak out - offering one another "secret" hand signals and facial expressions. The reason is simple: their candidate cannot lose this election.

“The Biden supporters don’t like to come out as Trump supporters do,” Mike Sherback, 55, said. “Usually I wouldn’t do this, either. But it’s the biggest election in my lifetime. He needs the support because the Trump people, Trump supporters, show their support whether through radical ways or not.”

Sherback is a Scottdale, Penn. resident. During a recent campaign stop for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Sherback stood next to Vicki Simon, 54, and the two swapped a hand signal.

“There’s a secret society of us,” Simon said. “We give each other the peace sign.”

"As a divisive presidential campaign enters the final stretch, there is evidence that some Democrats deep in Trump country — the kind of voters who avoided political discussions with their neighbors, tried to ignore Facebook debates and in some cases, sat out the last election — suddenly aren’t feeling so shy," The New York Times national political reporter Katie Glueck penned in her article, "They’re Not Shy Anymore About Liking Biden" Monday.

"It’s a surge in enthusiasm that reflects the urgency of the election for Democrats desperate to oust President Trump, one that could have significant implications for turnout in closely fought battleground states that the president won in 2016," Glueck wrote.

While Westmoreland County may not have a solid flip from red to blue for Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Democratic voter engagement may be enough to slim the margins of victory in white working-class areas, "the kind of support that compensated for his [Trump's] losses in cities and suburbs elsewhere last time."

“Even if we just cut the margin,” Biden said on his recent train tour through eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, “it makes a gigantic difference.”

“Among those who didn’t show up in Pennsylvania, they were two-to-one Clinton supporters,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “What we’re seeing right now is not the same lack of enthusiasm.”

“Many of these so-called shy Biden voters, who haven’t been talking about it before, are also the voters, the Democratic voters, who stayed home four years ago and now regret it,” Murray added.

According to The New York Times piece, Biden's "first stop after launching the tour in Cleveland was Alliance, Ohio, where the Republican mayor, Alan C. Andreani, described seeing 'as many Biden signs as Trump signs, Biden flags with Trump flags.'"

“We seldom get as many signs as we see right now,” said Andreani, “...a lot of people are engaged.”

The yard signs are a way to connect the older population, JoAnn Seabol, 70, shared. She coordinates volunteers for the Westmoreland County Democratic Party.

“With an older population, it’s a way of making people feel connected,” said Seabol. “Sometimes they’re surprised by their neighbors, when they see them also put out a Biden sign.”