The #AlwaysTrump people had a moment yesterday in West Chester. While waiting for the Donald, they jammed out to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” swinging “Make America Great Again” signs back-and-forth to the beat. It was like that scene from Almost Famous, except for rockstars, band-aids and a young Cameron Crowe dancing around for the sake of rock and roll, you had a motley crew of college students, grandparents and business people, united by a love for ridiculous t-shirts and the belief this country’s going downhill in a way that can be only be reversed by Donald Trump.
Both CNN and the Associated Press called the race for Trump within a minute of polls closing. It was an odd sight for most Philadelphians. Our city hasn’t embraced Republicans for 64 years and counting. But in every presidential primary some Republican must get more votes in Philadelphia than the other Republicans. That somebody ended up being Trump, who dominated Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
Trump may have graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, but he certainly didn’t need us in the run-up to the election. He stayed on the periphery, hyping up Pennsylvanians in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and, on Monday, West Chester. Like Trump’s strategy in so many other parts of the country, his appearances were impromptu and head-scratching (that whole Paterno thing in Pittsburgh), and they worked.
Analysts had predicted an easy Pennsylvania victory for Trump, but this win comes with a little extra reason for him to brag, given the alliance announced by Kasich and Cruz two days before the election. Kasich, when asked about the alliance at a campaign stop at the Penrose Diner, downplayed its significance.
The answer wasn’t a good look. For Kasich, little in Pennsylvania looked good. He was considered a threat to topple Trump here in late March, polling a few percentage points behind him. It made some sense. He grew up in the state, in McKees Rocks. He brought this up about seven times during a stump speech in Harrisburg earlier this month. Kasich talked about his working class roots, his love for Roberto Clemente, his father’s job as a mailman. He said things are still pretty good in the Commonwealth.
Nobody bought it. They were fawning over Cruz and his American in crisis message instead. Hell, they probably paid more attention to the Donald Trump truck chilling in the parking lot that day.
Those are the people who decided this race. And there might be more of them in Philadelphia than you’d imagine.
This year about 3,500 Philadelphians — an unprecedented number in modern times — switched from independent or Democrat to Republican. The best reasons anybody could figure why can was Trump.