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How Trump Broke The Democratic Stranglehold In Pennsylvania

Kimberly Paynter
Pennsylvania Democrats watch election results late into the night.

I've been hearing for weeks that if you drove through western and central Pennsylvania, you'd see Trump signs everywhere, like mushrooms.

How could the polls showing Hillary Clinton so far ahead in the state have been so wrong?

Trump, who happily ignored the conventional tools of political campaigns, just did it his way and won.

An early look at the numbers suggests it was Trump's ability to excite and expand his populist base that got the job done.

Coming into the election, the formula for Pennsylvania Democrats was to produce a robust turnout and a big margin in Philadelphia, and then win plenty of votes in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Returns suggest that they did a fair job in Philadelphia, giving Clinton a margin of more than 453,000 votes in the city.

And Clinton actually got bigger margins in the suburbs than Barack Obama did winning the state comfortably four years ago.

What's striking is that Trump rolled up much bigger margins in other, more conservative areas of the state than Mitt Romney did.

Washington County in Southwestern Pennsylvania gave Romney a 14-point win in 2012. Trump carried it yesterday by 25 points. Romney nicked Obama by a single point in Berks County. President-elect Trump posted a 10-point margin there.

Those wins, and Trump doing slightly better in Philadelphia than Romney were enough to undermine the Democrats' hopes in Pennsylvania.

Find this report and others on the site of our partner, WHYY.