Republicans reflect on Trump’s loss, down-ballot wins


TPN File Photo

After stepping off of his plane at Pittsburgh International Airport, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waved a Terrible Towel and threw it into the crowd before his speech on Nov. 6, 2016.

By Colm Slevin, Staff Writer

While Joe Biden supporters celebrated his Saturday victory in the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump’s supporters had to face the reality of the Republican president losing reelection.

With predictions of a close presidential race, many forecasters saw Pennsylvania being a deciding state in this election. Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes, or 1.2%, in 2016, while Biden won the commonwealth this election by 47,582 votes, or 0.7%. While Biden may have turned Pennsylvania blue, Republicans still won congressional seats, giving Pennsylvania Republicans something to celebrate for themselves.

Corey Barsky, vice president of the College Republicans, said he thinks there was a large part of the Republican party who didn’t support Trump but still supported the Republican congressional candidates. This is evident in the down-ballot election results — Republicans gained seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and statewide offices.

“You have people like Carrie DelRosso, Devlin Robinson and Rob Mercuri,” Barsky said. “These are all people who are running against well-funded Democrats from the Democratic machine with a lot of money against them, changing demographics of their district, and they all really weren’t given a snowball’s chance in hell.”

All but Mercuri beat an incumbent for a seat in the state House or Senate. DelRosso beat Frank Dermody, a Democrat, to represent the state House 33rd District, which Dermody has done for 29 years. Many Republicans had smaller victories even though the party did not win the presidential election.

Barsky said he was surprised to see Pennsylvania vote Democratic in this year’s presidential election considering it was red in 2016. Barsky also said there was an insurgence of more than 100,000 people registering as Republicans in Pennsylvania, making him think the commonwealth would remain red again this year.

“Knowing that statistic going into Election Day and seeing the numbers rolling in was a little bit crazy, because typically when you’re registering those new voters, that’s the way they’re going to vote,” Barsky, a senior neuroscience major, said.

John Crone, a sophomore math major, grew up in Pennsylvania’s rural York County surrounded by a lot of other Republicans. But he said since coming to Pitt, he has been able to meet people whose views fall all over the political spectrum. He said he is still surprised to see Pennsylvania flip blue in the presidential election.

“I’m slightly surprised, especially from the 2016 election being mostly red,” Crone said. “Even though Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are really densely populated, a lot of Pennsylvania is rural and pretty Republican.”

While many states have rules that require recounts when the gap between candidates is within a certain percentage, the Trump campaign is asking for recounts in some states where the automatic recount process hasn’t been triggered. Barsky said he understands the Trump campaign asking for recounts, but does not think they will ultimately flip any state.

“There’s needle traps that trigger [recounts] automatically,” Barsky said. “But the Trump campaign is well within its right to ask for recounts where they see them. I obviously understand why they’re doing it. What that will change I don’t know, but I guess that’s the purpose of filing them, to check.”

Cassidy Dujmic, a junior dental hygiene major, said she is not surprised that Trump is asking for a recount.

“I guess just second nature,” Dujmic said. “You’re human, you want to get the most accurate count, especially in this new system of doing things. I think if it wasn’t him it would have been someone else I think who would have been asked for a recount.”

No matter the outcome of the Trump campaign’s litigation, Dujmic remains hopeful that while Biden may not have been her candidate of choice, he will be a good president.

“[Biden’s] gonna be a good president,” Dujmic said. “And I know four years is a long time to make a lot of huge decisions, but I have faith that he’s gonna put his best foot forward and be honest and listen to voices, other than his own, just like I hope any other president would.”

But Dujmic said she feels Biden’s environmental policies, of which the Green New Deal is a “crucial framework,” make her hesitant about Biden’s presidency.

“I think [the Green New Deal] can be a good thing. I know that a lot of American jobs can be at stake,” Dujmic said. “And that hits close to home, especially for me because my dad and his side of the family work in the coal mining business, and not that coal isn’t a great thing for the atmosphere, but it holds … American jobs. That’s what provides them with an income, that’s what provides them with a way of living.”

Biden was first elected as a Senator for Delaware in 1973 and has been criticized for his political past. Barsky said Biden’s policies have ebbed and flowed over his career.

“I think we have to take Joe Biden in segments,” Barsky said. “1990s Joe Biden was OK. He was no Kennedy Democrat but he was who he is projecting himself to be now. I think 2020 Biden is very different from the Biden we knew while he was in the White House. I am a little nervous in terms of foreign policy, in terms of China, in terms of a lot of other things.”

Crone said even though he is Republican, and voted for Trump, he isn’t very upset by Biden being the president-elect. But he said he is still skeptical of him since he has been in politics so long.

“I personally don’t mind [Biden] much, the only questionable things I have with him is how much is he actually going to get done,” Crone said. “Because he’s been a career politician for many years and was in the Senate. He kind of knows how to play the government game.”

While Barksy has his issues with Biden, he said he sees a lot of Republicans who may not have voted for Trump, but still are loyal to their party.

“New Republicans might have rejected Trump, but they didn’t reject the party,” Barksy said.