Oct 9, 2019

Republicans target Pennsylvania's Amish for 2020

Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Republicans are seeking to widen their chances of winning Pennsylvania again by targeting the state's most conservative residents: the Amish, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: In the 2016 presidential election, Pennsylvania's 20 electoral college votes went to President Trump by a margin of just 45,000 ballots. More than 75,000 Amish live in Pennsylvania, leading modest, heavily religious lives away from developed landscapes or politics. Less than 7% of Amish who are eligible to vote in Lancaster County, Pa., for example, are registered to do so. Republicans are hoping to change that.

  • 2 Republican operatives started Amish PAC in 2016, targeting potential voters through billboard and newspaper ads, aiming to win additional votes for Republicans in 2020.
  • Ben Walters, a co-founder of the PAC, told the Post he's heard from many Amish people coming around to the idea of voting, citing more interest in 2018 than 2016, and continued interest into the next election.
  • “Since 2016, every single year, it gets a little bit easier. We’re seeing more and more signs of progress. I think behaviors are finally changing," Walters said.

Of note: Amish don't drive cars and are not permitted by church rules to have driver's licenses, but they pass by billboards while commuting in their traditional horse-drawn buggies. Many are also willing to commute in cars so long as they are not driving.

Between the lines: While Amish people tend to side with Republican principles like disagreeing with same-sex marriage and abortion, they also, by and large, strongly believe in keeping their community and the federal government separate.

  • Amish PAC is hoping to reach Mennonite voters as well, who are less traditionalist but still deeply conservative.

By the numbers: The PAC spent almost $140,000 in 2016 and has already raised $32,000 for 2020, per their campaign finance reports.

  • In Lancaster County, where over 10% of all of America's Amish live, 1,019 members of the community voted in 2016. 15,055 were eligible.
  • At the end of the 1990s, fewer than 450 members of the community were registered voters.

Go deeper: Trump's 2020 map from hell

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Planned Parenthood plans massive spending campaign for 2020

A Portland Planned Parenthood in 2015. Photo: Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Planned Parenthood and its super PAC announced on Wednesday a plan to spend at least $45 million to support Democratic and pro-abortion rights candidates in 2020 state and federal elections, NPR reports.

Why it matters: The organization says that this is its largest electoral effort ever. While Planned Parenthood's 2020 spending is focused on elections and unseating President Trump, the Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case involving one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, marking the first time the high court will hear an abortion case with a solidified conservative majority.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019

Clinton: Dems must pick a candidate who can win the Electoral College

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Hillary & Chelsea Clinton: A Conversation on "The Book Of Gutsy Women" at Riverbend Center in Denver, Monday night. Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images

Democrats must pick a 2020 candidate who can win the Electoral College, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Monday during an event in Denver while discussing her new book, The Hill reports.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election but lost to President Trump in the Electoral College. Per The Hill, Clinton said "several of our candidates could win the popular vote, but as I know ... that's not enough."

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New way to track voters: Their smartphones

President Trump at a Sept. 9 MAGA rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Republican PAC that supports President Trump's re-election campaign plans to use location data from voters' smartphones "to find people who may not be registered to vote" in about 6 swing states before 2020, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: This technique — called "geofencing" — was used by 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke during his 2018 Senate race, WSJ reports, and by CatholicVote, a conservative political advocacy group.

Go deeperArrowOct 12, 2019