OHIOPYLE, PA.- Judy and her husband Phil, who is in his 29th year of service in the military, along with three other couples who ventured from Pittsburgh to attend an annual craft beer festival held on the fringes of the Pennsylvania state park, all sat in folding chairs, waiting for the event to begin.
They were three hours early, the second in line and well stocked with sunscreen, bottles of water, string cheese, beef jerky, cold beers and a very happy state of mind.
“We come for the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the music, the beer of course, it’s just a very good vibe here,” she said.
Off in the distance the long, long, short, long whistle of the freight train signaled to those at the end of the line they best move away swiftly from the tracks because the CSX line would barrel through in seconds.
All four couples had camped out one mountain top away; they had all met at their local church years ago and instantly formed a deep friendship.
Judy said they don’t avoid talking about politics because they are on the same page; “Look at our local school, they eliminated the role of the valedictorian because it might hurt the feelings of those who came in second or third, they also eliminated the practice of class rank,” she said.
She peeled off a series of other reasons that she is turned off by the direction of the country, then said she had no problem supporting Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE for president. Neither does her husband. Or their friends.
“We are Christians, we all try to lead decent lives, work hard for our successes, look after our children and like to kick up our heels from time to time,” she said as she raised her beer for a toast.
On Monday – after nearly a month of bad press that began with an Indiana judge and ended with firing his campaign manager – the latest Quinnipiac survey in the state showed Trump’s polling numbers had not budged from their May tie with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell The Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight Powell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief MORE.
Welcome to Pennsylvania, where Trump isn’t going to have some of the problems he is going to have elsewhere, because there is very little of what the Democrats call the rising American electorate.
The Latino vote is statistically unimportant. So is the Asian or the multinational vote, and while Philadelphia has its share of college educated whites who work in the information economy, most of the state does not.
So, the sort of constituencies that Hillary Clinton will probably do as well or better than Obama nationally, are not going to come into play very much in Pennsylvania.
Hence, Trump remains large and popular in the state even after a brutal month of bad press. Even after Hillary Clinton had delivered a succinct, measured brutal take down of him in Pittsburgh, two days after the massacre in Orlando.
In truth, what Trump needs to do is pretty simple: he needs to hold on to the moderate Republican and the moderate independent, of which is most indicative in high income suburbs of suburban Pittsburgh and the collar counties of Philadelphia.
And, increase the share of the vote of the working class Democrat and independent voters in old blue collar towns like Johnstown, Wilkes-Barre, Allentown and Erie.
African American turnout in this state in 2012 was down slightly from its high-water mark in 2008. Hillary will win that vote – but it’s hard to imagine the old New Deal coalition rallying around her on issues that are important to them like guns, God, national security and squelching the breadth of government.
Trust in government is also an issue for them – can she convince them she will bridge that gap between them and Washington?
“It sounds like a cliché to say they don’t get it, but I can’t think of a better way to emphasize the point,” Judy said of government largess and incompetence.
At precisely 3:20 the gates opened for the festival, for $20, patrons got a 20 oz glass and the ability to go around and taste craft beers and ciders from dozens of breweries around the state, Half Bad Bluegrass Band had already begun their cover of "Jolene," immediately drawing people to dance in the grass in front of the makeshift grandstand.
“Last year there was a monsoon, it just poured and poured and poured,” said John Lively, who plays banjo and does lead vocals for the band. “But no one would leave, so we placed all of the equipment up on the picnic benches to keep us safe and everyone just danced in the mud and rain as if it wasn’t there,” he said.
Can’t imagine many other places or people like the folks around here said Lively, “When they set their mind to do something, they are going to do it.”
Salena Zito is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial page columnist. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.