When President Donald Trump told the world that “bad things happen in Philadelphia,” it was, in part, a blunt assessment of his party’s struggles in the nation’s sixth-most populous city.

For decades, Philadelphia has been the cornerstone of Democratic victories in the battleground state — producing Democratic margins so massive that winning statewide has been a longshot for most Republican presidential candidates.

But it’s a longshot Trump pulled off in 2016 and is trying to repeat again. His debate stage disdain for the City of Brotherly Love — which quickly inspired memes and T-shirts — underscored his campaign’s months-long effort to fight the blue tide that starts in the city.

That fight has involved court challenges and statehouse wrangling over mail-in voting and poll watching, efforts Democrats characterize as voter suppression.

And it came as Trump openly declared, citing no evidence, that the only way he can lose Pennsylvania to former Vice President Joe Biden is through a massive fraud engineered by Democrats in the city of 1.6 million.

But Trump can’t change the basic political math in the state: one in eight registered voters live in Philadelphia, a city that keeps delivering increasingly large Democratic margins, routinely provides one in five votes for Democratic presidential candidates and is spurring a leftward drift in the heavily populated suburbs around it.

“Trump is right, ‘bad things happen in Philadelphia,’ especially for him,” Philadelphia’s Democratic Party chair, Bob Brady, said. “And bad things are going to happen for him in Philadelphia on Election Day.”

Recent polls show Trump and Biden in a competitive race in Pennsylvania, or Biden ahead by single-digits in a state Trump won by just over 44,000 votes — less than a percentage point — in 2016.

Trump’s victory was the first by a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, and it shocked Pennsylvania Democrats to the core.

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In Philadelphia, Biden’s campaign is putting a heavy emphasis on turning out Black and Latino voters and is bringing in former President Barack Obama to campaign there. Trump’s campaign is making its own appeal to Black and Latino voters and hoping for even better results with his white, working-class base.

Brady predicted Philadelphia will carry the rest of Pennsylvania and produce a bigger margin of victory for Biden than the 475,000 it produced for Hillary Clinton in 2016. That gap was slightly smaller than the historic margins Obama had in 2008 and 2012.

The Biden campaign has several “voter activation” centers around the city, not to mention Biden’s campaign headquarters.

Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, opened offices in heavily Black west Philadelphia and in heavily white northeast Philadelphia.

Thanks to a year-old state law that greatly expanded mail-in voting, people now have weeks to vote and turnout is brisk at newly opened election offices around the city where voters can fill out and cast ballots.

That is giving hope to Philadelphia Democrats, after the city’s predominantly Black wards did not turn out as strongly in 2016 for Clinton as they did for Obama, including some that delivered 10% fewer votes.

“The line went …read more

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