Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Coal country becoming presidential battleground; polls show Ohio and Pennsylvania up for grabs

Hillary Clinton's continued decline in the Appalachian coalfield and Donald Trump's surging popularity there could spell trouble for the Democratic candidate this fall, Michael Finnegan reports for the Los Angeles Times. That has been evident during trips by both candidates into Appalachia, where Clinton is still reeling from her comment that she would "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business" with policies to fight climate change, while Trump has been winning over voters by promising to bring lost coal jobs back without saying how. Clinton's apologized for her statement, but it was often taken out of context, and Republicans are hammering her on it. (AP photo by Steve Helber: Trump supporters in Charleston, W.Va.)

A Quinnipiac University survey released today has Trump leading Clinton in Ohio 43 percent to 39 percent, while Clinton holds narrow leads—43 percent to 42 percent—over Trump in Pennsylvania and Florida. The survey has Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders beating Trump in all three states, by margins of 43 percent to 41 percent in Ohio, 47 percent to 41 percent in Pennsylvania and 44 percent to 42 percent in Florida. Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the poll, said, "At this juncture, Trump is doing better in Pennsylvania than the GOP nominees in 2008 and 2012. And the two candidates are about where their party predecessors were at this point in Ohio and Florida." No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio' electoral votes, and Pennsylvania has voted Democratic for president since 1988.

Finnegan writes, "Clinton's bungled remarks on coal's grim future—'I misspoke,' she conceded last week—opened the way for Trump to strengthen his bonds with the voters she offended. Trump has played to public anger over efforts by President Obama, Clinton and other Democrats to scale back the burning of coal and other fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. Trump has dismissed global warming as a 'canard,' 'hoax' and 'total con job,' citing cold snaps as evidence," though weather is not the same as climate. Trump could pay for rejecting science, Finnegan wriues: "Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania all include big metropolitan areas where Clinton's plans to fight global warming resonate with many moderates." At the same time, economists doubt any president can stop coal's decline. (Read more)

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