Donald Trump will hold three more campaign rallies in Pennsylvania this coming weekend. But despite five "MAGA" rallies over three previous visits this month, polls continue to show him trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the vital swing state ahead of the general election next week.
Pennsylvania doctors recently begged Trump to stop holding mass rallies in the state, noting that with their large numbers of people crowded together, often without masks, they carry the risk of becoming coronavirus superspreader events. A Center for American Progress analysis this week noted that at least 11 large Trump rallies nationally immediately preceded significant COVID-19 case spikes in the communities in which they were held.
Though Joe Biden has taken pains to promote safety at his campaign events, Trump has pointedly refused to enforce mask requirements or social distancing at his. One poll this week found that voters — including those in Pennsylvania — said they are less likely to vote for Trump because of his mass rallies. Among persuadable voters in the state, 58% said Trump's "large, in-person campaign rallies where wearing a mask is not required of attendees" reduces their approval of him versus just 18% who said the opposite.
In 2016, Trump barely won Pennsylvania — and its 20 electoral votes — with a margin of less than 1%. Polls show that he has lost substantial ground in the state since, largely due to his unpopularity among older Pennsylvanians and women.
Despite Trump openly begging suburban women to like him, one recent poll showed him losing among female Pennsylvanians by about 30 points. Older voters in the state, many citing Trump's botched handling of the pandemic, have also turned away from the incumbent, swapping a 10 percent Trump advantage among Pennsylvanian seniors in 2016 for a 19 percent deficit this time around.
Trump's recent appearances in Pennsylvania have done little to win over skeptical undecided voters.
Last Tuesday, he told voters in Erie that he did not really want to be there at all.
"Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn't coming to Erie. I have to be honest. There was no way I was coming. I didn't have to," he said. "We had this thing won, we were so far up, we had the greatest economy ever, greatest jobs, greatest everything. And then we got hit with the plague and I had to go back to work. Hello, Erie, can I please have your vote?"
On Monday, he told voters in Allentown and Lititz that he would withhold emergency aid to their state in the future to punish Gov. Tom Wolf for inconveniencing him with COVID-19 safety rules.
"This [venue] was set up because your governor made it almost impossible for us to find any site," he complained at his Allentown event.
He returned to the subject several times: "So, Tom Wolf, next time give us a little notice, Governor. And I'll remember it, Tom. I'm gonna remember it, Tom. 'Hello, Mr. President. This is Governor Wolf. I need help. I need help.' You know what? These people are bad. We, we go out of our way, regardless Republican, Democrat, when they have a problem, but he shut us out."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.