Apratim Vidyarthi, Staffwriter
As the primary season drags on and the presidential campaign reality show embarrasses more Americans than ever before, it is about to hit Pennsylvania hard. The Pennsylvania primary has a lot riding on it: hope of redemption for Bernie Sanders; hope of a snowball effect for Hillary Clinton; continued ignorance of Donald Trump’s misogynistic, racist, and violent campaign for Donald Trump; continued desperation for anyone but Trump for Ted Cruz; and hope that people know who John Kasich is, for John Kasich. As with the entirety of primary season, newscasters and internet commenters (both of which have a tendency to be surprisingly unreliable) alike are deeming this a toss-up, though polls and statisticians like Nate Silver seem to have a grasp of reality.
Bernie Sanders and his “revolutionary” campaign claim that the past five contests — most of which he won with margins of more than 30 points — will give him momentum to ride through Wisconsin and back into the states near his home of Vermont. However, proximity to the small, mostly-white, and wealthy state seems to have no impact on the polling, which shows an overall chance of Hillary Clinton winning Pennsylvania at 96%. Without complex statistical models and only depending on the polls, Clinton has a 53% chance of winning — but even then, Sanders has a huge delegate gap to make up, one that a simple birdie and a revolution-in-name may not be able to overcome. Sanders needs to win more than 60% of Pennsylvania for him to overcome the more than 200 delegate deficit he has; yet Clinton is projected to win 66-30 based on statistical models.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump’s populist campaign is on the defense as Trump’s campaign manager turned himself into custody following a battery charge in Florida, a state that keeps on creating drama and disappointing (and entertaining) America. Trump’s campaign team has shown cracks in its armor, with several key members defecting. Trump himself has continued to behave as he has for the last four months, showing no true knowledge of foreign policy, how the government works, or how to respect women, minorities, and common sense. Nonetheless, the statistical model at FiveThirtyEight shows Donald Trump’s chance of winning as 46%, compared to a 27% chance for Cruz or Kasich. The polling averages also show a double digit lead for Trump, with Kasich coming in second place. What this support for Kasich means is that Pennsylvania might be one of the few states with a relatively sane population, not blinded by its anger against incompetent establishment Republican politicians who have used obstructionism and corruption to bring Washington DC to a halt. Nonetheless, the fact that Donald Trump leads brings very real risk to the likelihood of him having a strong shot at being the Republican nomination for Presidency, and potentially bringing a collapse to the world economy and a drought of pride for Americans.
In Pittsburgh, Senator Sanders has visited the city to give a stump speech that is beginning to sound more hackneyed as the contest goes on; akin to Clinton’s hackneyed copying of Sanders’ positions. Clinton will probably follow Sanders to the city, which leans democratic, to push for the massive 210 delegates that Pennsylvania offers. Sanders’ policies, which are more protectionist and pro-blue-collar, could ring true with those still living in Pittsburgh’s history. Clinton’s policies, which are rooted in realism about trade and technological progress, could appeal to the new Pittsburgh, including to the support community for universities in the area. Nonetheless, the majority of college students are bound to support Sanders in line with the rest of the nation, given that Sanders’ policies have selling points that appeal to the youth: legalization of marijuana, free college tuition, and free healthcare (at the expense of tax increases and political dreams ignorant of the Congressional gridlock and Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, at least one of which is most likely to stay red).
Ultimately, this primary and presidential election season are of historic importance. For Republicans, it is a choice between two sexist, racist homophobes (Trump and Cruz) and a man who is just a sexist (Kasich), but still better than what was expected of Republican politicians. For Democrats, it is a choice between realism and optimism; between incremental change or purported revolution; between a progressive who can appeal to the masses or a progressive who hopes to appeal to the masses; and between two candidates who will nonetheless make history by being either the first woman or first Jewish president. America is the precipice of history, and Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania must make sure they are on the right side of it.