This County May Determine Who Wins Reagan Democrats

Democratic presidential nominees had not set foot in Erie, Pennsylvania, in a dozen years.

When Joe Biden spoke at a union building there on Saturday, his very presence showed how one election turned the Rust Belt city from an afterthought into a priority for Democrats.

President Barack Obama and his running mate Biden trounced their GOP opponents in Erie County in 2008 and 2012. Then in 2016, Republican President Donald Trump carried the area by about 2,000 votes as he leveraged concerns about manufacturing job losses and promised to revamp U.S. trade deals.

Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, will award 20 electoral votes as one of the country’s top prizes. Erie County will help to test whether Biden’s economic message can break through in the Keystone State’s former Democratic strongholds — and others across the Midwest — that gave a Republican political newcomer a try four years ago.

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