Since November of 2008, Democrats’ voter registration edge in the Keystone State has shrunk from 14.2 percent to 11.1 percent — a pattern that more closely resembles the rightward cultural shift of West Virginia than the leftward migration of New Jersey. In fact, in 60 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties (save for Philadelphia and six other eastern Pennsylvania counties), the party registration trend over that time has favored Republicans.
So far this year, 73,543 Democratic registrants have switched to the GOP. The switchers mostly live in heavily white, working-class counties, and most did so in advance of the April 26 primary, presumably to vote for Trump. Trump took 57 percent statewide, but he took 70 percent in Fayette County (Uniontown) and 77 percent in Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre) — locales that recorded two of the highest rates of party switching.
It’s likely that many of these “Trump Democrats” were already Romney voters in 2012. But it’s also possible that Trump has room to grow with Pennsylvanians who didn’t click with either Romney or Obama four years ago. According to Census data, just 63 percent of Pennsylvania’s eligible non-Hispanic whites turned out to vote in 2012, compared with an average of 68 percent in the other nine closest states.