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How one battleground state will factor into the upcoming presidential election

“The casual observer of politics can tell that this is a really unusual year.”

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And while Clinton has Democratic officials locked up, she’s also doing well with another pretty sizable voting block: women.

“In terms of gender gap, we know that Donald Trump does pretty poorly with women voters. Seven out of 10 women do not support him,” says Dana Brown, the executive director of the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. “He needs to do better [with them], and that’s why you saw Ivanka Trump come out and talk about gender issues during the RNC.”

Brown says Trump and the Republicans might have a chance winning over women who fit into the demographics of white married mothers — also known in politics as “security moms” — because they’re likely to list national security as a top concern.

“Trump has made safety such a central part of his campaign,” Brown says. “But Clinton has, too. But she’s trying to flip the script. She’s saying, ‘I’m the strong steady hand. He’s too emotional.’”

Meanwhile Trump’s approval with veterans — and the mothers of veterans, for that matter —recently took a hit. The news cycle last weekend was dominated by the ongoing debate spurred by Khizr Khan’s well-received speech, delivered on the DNC’s closing night. Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who stood with wife, Ghazala, spoke of their son, Humayun, a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, and called on Trump to repudiate his earlier comments about banning Muslims. Trump responded over the weekend with several dismissive tweets and a suggestion that Mrs. Khan had remained silent on stage due to religious restrictions imposed on women. Trump’s comments sparked outrage among many, including Mrs. Kahn, who wrote in an op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post: “What mother could [speak]? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”

And this past Monday, just hours before Trump’s appearance in Mechanicsburg, the Clinton campaign sent a release saying veterans in Pennsylvania — including former Rep. Chris Carney, who is a former commander of the U.S. Navy Reserve — would publicly demand an apology for Trump’s comments about the Khan family. 

Historically, the Republicans have usually taken the majority of the military vote. But this year things aren’t set in stone. 

“The casual observer of politics can tell that this is a really unusual year,” says Kanthak. “As a political scientist, I can tell you it’s a really, really unusual year.”

And regarding Pennsylvania — which in 1992, political strategist James Carville described as “Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between” — Kanthak says: “It’s a divided state. People around here responded well to Obama. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary doesn’t do as well. It doesn’t mean she’ll lose the state, but we’re very much up for grabs.”




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