On Friday, POLITICO published a deep dive into life for Biden supporters in pro-Trump rural areas — claiming they "suffer in silence," unable to discuss politics with neighbors and fearful of reprisal for their beliefs.
"Barrels of ink have been spilled over the past seven years examining Donald Trump’s appeal in rural places like Clearfield County, an old timber and coal region situated along Interstate 80 on the western edge of central Pennsylvania," reported Christopher Caledago. "What those tales often leave out is the other side of the same coin ... Nearly 30,000 people in Clearfield County voted for Trump in 2020, roughly three-quarters of the ballots cast. But the other 25 percent who voted for Joe Biden — 9,673 people — find themselves in an unusual position: They supported the ultimate winner and yet a relentless and toxic campaign to delegitimize his victory and overturn the election makes them feel somehow as if they’re under siege."
The analysis said that such Democratic voters live in constant fear of insults, threats, and ostracization among people they have known and been friends with all their lives.
Among the group, notes the analysis, are Kathy and Frank Foulkrod: "Both are 73-year-old retired schoolteachers whose families have lived in the region for generations. They’re also Democrats, members of a minority group in a place that’s suddenly unfamiliar to them. On a tour of the town and nearby communities, they told me they have never felt so detached from their neighbors. 'Life here has never been as coarse as it is now,' Frank says."
Previous reports have similarly indicated that many Democrats remain in rural, Appalachian communities — but are scared to discuss politics because they fear the brand is "toxic."
"Just as much as the diner-going, flag-raising Trump voters foretold the surprising rise and staying power of Trump’s populist revolt, conversations with beleaguered rural Democrats provide clues about the persistent decline of their party’s influence," said the report. "The charged climate creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of increasing resentment of their neighbors’ devotion to Trumpism and decreasing willingness to interact with them ... During the 2020 election, a friend stopped by after the Foulkrods defiantly stuck a Biden lawn sign near their house. 'She had a Biden sign up,” too, Kathy says of the woman who visited them. “And she said, ‘I just came to tell you I had to take my Biden sign down because I was too afraid.'"
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