Trump is struggling in a critical Pennsylvania county that helped him win in 2016: report
President Donald Trump signs S. 3021- America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

On Saturday, Politico profiled Luzerne County, Pennsylvania — a place that voted for Obama twice before backing President Donald Trump and giving him nearly half of his margin in the state in 2016.


While Trump is still likely to carry the county again, there are trouble signs that he will not win it by nearly as much as he did four years ago.

"Despite the GOP’s triumphs in recent years, there are a few reasons to believe Biden could be competitive. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf won Luzerne County by almost 5 percentage points in 2018. Recent New York Times/Siena surveys found that Trump is underperforming in northeastern Pennsylvania relative to 2016," reported Holly Otterbein. "Multiple surveys have also shown that Trump is winning white working-class voters by a smaller margin than he did in 2016, both nationwide and in Pennsylvania. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pulled its ad bookings in the market where Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents parts of Luzerne County and whose district voted for Trump in 2016, is running for reelection — a 'big sign of confidence in Cartwright's chances,' said Brendan Welch, communications director for Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party."

There are signs the county won't flip back outright — for instance, the report noted, "As of September, the GOP had registered nearly 12,000 additional net voters in Luzerne County since 2016, whereas Democrats have lost more than 1,000." But Democrats are confident they can hold down Trump's margins enough here to win the state, particularly since Biden was born and raised in nearby Scranton. And Trump has been wary of the goings on in the county, seizing on an investigation of discarded ballots that has not yet concluded.

“What do Presidents Obama and Trump have in common? It’s not a long list. They were both the change candidates,” said Cartwright. “And here’s the thing: When things aren't working out that well in life, you almost always vote for the change candidate.”

“[Biden] won’t carry [Luzerne], but he’ll lose it by a lot less than Hillary did,” said Ed Rendell, a Democrat who previously served as the state's governor. “It’s changed over time. The demographics have changed. Trump is popular in Luzerne. But Joe has got some fans in Luzerne.”