With election season in full swing, the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) began their Scranton Town Hall series on Tuesday in the Pearn Auditorium in Brennan Hall. This segment was focused on “Election 2016.”
The topics reviewed consisted of the presidential election, as well as the U.S. Senate race and statewide elections. Four panelists including Jean Harris, Ph.D. of The University, Jeff Brauer of Keystone College, Bill O’Boyle of the Times Leader and Scott Schaefer of WNEP-TV discussed the topics in front of an audience of community members and students.
It was first noted by proctor Francine Schertzer of PCN that “since 1932, whoever the presidential candidate was that won Luzerne Country has won Pennsylvania.”
A republican presidential candidate has not won Pennsylvania since 1988, though currently Donald Trump appears to do be doing rather well in the polls for the state. Eleven thousand people attended the Trump rally here in Pennsylvania, consisting of republicans as well as a large number of democrats.
Though Jean Harris added that many people, especially young individuals, attend Trump events because it is entertainment. She concluded that turnouts at those events are not an accurate way to predict the presidential election.
Although the polls seem to show Trump ahead, Brauer explained how Hillary Clinton is very familiar with the area as she has many relatives still in Scranton.
“Hillary Clinton has a lot of great advantages here. She’s got a lot of family ties here; her father grew up here in Scranton,” Brauer said. He also noted that in addition to the Clintons, Joe Biden and his family are also from Scranton.
Although it was mentioned that Luzerne County is crucial to winning Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is also vital. Whichever candidate gets the victory in Philadelphia would greatly increase their chances of winning the entire state.
The panelists touched on how social media is changing the game for this election. Schaefer explained how we receive immediate information about and from the presidential candidates through social media. Harris raised question about what is true and untrue from the vast amount of information we receive from social media. She believes fact checking is very important especially in this election.
Exercise science student and first-year Emily Burns believes that social media is important in the election because it informs people much faster than any other medium.
“Social Media is important because it helps reach a wider audience and allows people to be more informed,” Burns said. She also believes that “it provides easy access to a large variety of opinions.”
While discussing the instate elections, O’Boyle touched on the McGinty-Toomey race for the U.S. Senate. He stated that Toomey has managed to separate himself from Trump so he will not be hurt by any “anti-Trump sentiment,” though McGinty has been aligned with Hillary. Therefore, if Hillary wins Pennsylvania, the U.S. Senate election for the state could be greatly influenced.