• By The Financial District


Rust Belt battleground states including Ohio and Pennsylvania handed Trump the White House in 2016, and they will again help decide the Nov. 3 election, Ernest Sheyder, Nick Brown and Jason Lange wrote for Associated Press (AP).

Four years ago, Trump’s message of economic revitalization won votes from many white, working-class voters who had cast ballots for Democrat Barack Obama in 2012. Many of those voters remain loyal to the president. Still, support for Trump is slipping in these states this year, and the pandemic is a big reason why. Polling data show the 2020 race is increasingly becoming a referendum on the president’s handling of COVID-19.

Reuters/Ipsos polling, conducted Oct. 9-13, showed 50% of likely voters nationwide feel Biden would be better at managing the pandemic response, compared to 37% for Trump. Opinion polling in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin shows that voters there, too, think Biden is the better candidate to lead on the coronavirus. Recent polls by Reuters/Ipsos and others show Biden tied with Trump in Ohio and leading in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, albeit by narrower margins than Biden’s double-digit lead nationally.

Many residents liked Trump’s protectionist trade philosophy, strong defense of gun rights and hard-line stance on immigration. They helped Trump win Trumbull by about 6 percentage points, and Northampton by about 4 percentage points. Now some have had enough. In September, likely voters in Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, which includes Northampton County, said they would vote for Biden over Trump 51% to 44%, according to a Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll. A New York Times/Siena College poll conducted Oct. 2-6 showed likely voters favoring Biden 49% to 43% over Trump in Ohio’s industrial north, a region that includes Trumbull County.