Understanding The Possible Political Shift In Erie County
Erie County, which had been primarily Democratic for several decades, voted for Donald Trump in 2016. We talked with a local political analyst to find out what the future may hold for local candidates from both parties and where their allegiances may lie.
Dr. Robert Speel has spent decades analyzing aspects of American politics including elections and voting behavior.
The current associate professor of political science at Penn State Behrend says he was surprised when Erie County, a mainly Democratic county voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election
"Yeah, no of course, Hillary won easily in the city of Erie." Speel said. "But yeah, for the county- wide vote I was somewhat surprised because Erie County had been voting more Democratic than Allegheny County around Pittsburgh, in the previous few elections and then suddenly Erie County shifted."
As for why the shift occurred, Speel said some local democrats may not have liked Hillary Clinton as a candidate or, perhaps believed in Trump's agenda to bring industrial jobs back into the United States.
The importance comes as Erie nears its election season, specifically with the mayoral race between Democrat Joe Schember, and Republican John Persinger. Word has gained traction recently over the possible election of Persinger, who, if elected, would be Erie's first Republican mayor since the JFK administration.
Speel says the success of a local Republican may rely on the national success of President Trump. And says that supporters are on a "wait and see approach: as to whether or not they would vote for him in 2020.
"Definitely, if Trump remains popular in this region, that's gonna help Republicans across the board." Speel said. "If Trump's popularity plummets, then that's gonna help Democrats across the board. So, I definitely think that national trend is going to affect local trends."
The first mayoral candidates debate will take place on Tuesday, October 17th,