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Why ‘pivot counties’ stuck with Trump may be a warning to Democrats

This year, Mr. Trump once again carried the district. In 2022, Cartwright said, a Trump-style Republican in Pennsylvania’s governor and senate election could win statewide. “A lot of it depends on how life goes in two years,” he says.

Another region reflecting changes in the recent election, Saratoga County in upstate New York hosted one of Mr. Biden’s most landmark performances in a pivotal county. Mr. Trump won there by 3.2 points four years ago. Mr. Biden won by 5.4 points last month, for a total swing of 8.6 points.

Todd Kerner, the chairman of the county Democrats, attributed the about-face to doubts over the chairman of college-educated voters in the affluent suburb of Albany on the southern end of the county.

Jim Esterly, a retiree from Clifton Park, NY, was one of them. Four years ago, he said, he was captured by Mr. Trump’s television character from “The Apprentice.”

“I said, ‘Here is a man who is a businessman,’” Mr. Esterly said. “He had businesses that failed, but he came back. I don’t know how he turned the ship around, but I said running the country was like running a big business.

Disillusionment set in early for Mr. Esterly, 68, who had managed a municipal wastewater treatment plant. “He didn’t believe in climate change,” he said, citing the president’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. “When Covid hit he was more than stupid, not believing his experts early enough, then saying ‘Maybe we need to do something’ and then ignoring him.

Mr. Esterly voted for Mr. Biden this year, and he had a lot of company in the suburb of Clifton Park. Mr. Biden won nearly 3,000 more votes in the city than Ms. Clinton in 2016. Mr. Trump only increased his support by about 500 more votes.

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