President Joe Biden, aka “Scranton Joe,” has the lowest approval rating of any modern president at this point in his term. Americans are unhappy about their economic circumstances, they’re angry about chaos at the border, and they hold Biden and his party responsible.

And yet, in Pennsylvania, Republicans are struggling to win elections. That struggle is particularly difficult here in the Delaware Valley. As the 2024 presidential race approaches, Pennsylvania Republicans are asking: What can we do to win?

At the center of this conversation is a familiar name: Donald Trump.

Despite his legal problems, Trump is generally expected to be the Republican nominee. A recent Morning Consult poll found 80 percent of GOP primary voters want Trump to be at the top of the ticket.

State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) said Biden’s falling approval ratings are the result of Democrats ignoring issues that matter to the American people. She went on to say the GOP can win in the Delaware Valley by focusing on what people care about.

“People are tired of Democratic politicians focusing on issues that don’t matter,” White said. “The GOP can win because we are focused on what people care about: giving families real choices when it comes to an education that is best for their kids. Next, combatting inflation and protecting their money, keeping neighborhoods safe from violent criminals and drugs, and fighting illegal immigration and all the problems it’s causing.”

To put another perspective on White’s remarks about Democrats not focusing on the issues voters care most about, a recently published report shows Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick outraised incumbent Sen. Bob Casey in the fourth quarter of 2023, a reported $6.4 million, more than Casey has raised in a single quarter.

“Dave McCormick has earned the support of Pennsylvanians from all walks of life because they believe he is the kind of leader who can address the burden of inflation on working families, push for a secure border, and protect the security of Americans at home and abroad,” McCormick’s campaign manager Matt Gruda said in the published report.

An NBC News poll shows Biden’s job rating has hit an “all-time low” of just 37 percent. He gets especially low marks when it comes to his handling of inflation and immigration.

David Dix, CEO and chairman of Luminous Strategies, said that even with his legal problems, it’s clear many Republican voters are pushing for Trump to challenge Biden again. He said if the GOP wants high numbers of voters in the Delaware Valley, it must separate Donald Trump and other local Republicans.

“I don’t see the border problems as one of the top three issues of concern for voters in the Delaware Valley,” Dix said. “For the GOP to do well in our section of the state, they have to …not be attached to the Trump brand, and that’s a delicate dance. In the Delaware Valley, voters are most concerned about paycheck issues, meaning inflation and being heavily taxed. Another top issue for Delaware Valley voters is who is serving on school boards. One of the key national issues is the economy. Clearly, Bidenomics has fallen flat.”

Dix, who has more than 25 years of political and electoral experience, is a regular commentator on Inside Story, a weekly public affairs program on 6ABC WPVI. He went on to say that while border security might not be one of the top three issues of concern to Delaware Valley voters, it is definitely on the list.

“Border protection is important and can’t be minimized,” Dix said. “If the GOP wants to sway more voters to its camp, it needs to develop a comprehensive strategy. Biden must do that. If Trump wins the nomination, he has to position beyond just building more border walls as it pertains to immigration. An overall strategy is needed if the problem is to be finally addressed.”

Two cases show how serious the open border policies by the current administration are. A report released on Jan. 26 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated its officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing encountered individuals in four different incidents trying to smuggle fentanyl and methamphetamine concealed internally within their bodies.

Montgomery County law enforcement officials also announced on Jan. 26 the arrests of two individuals charged with multiple felony offenses related to running a major drug trafficking organization supplying Southeastern Pennsylvania with heroin, fentanyl, and Xylazine. The defendants in the case are Richard Nunez and Javier Cornelio Fabian, both of Philadelphia. Investigators seized almost 400,000 doses of the narcotics worth $3.6 million.

Calvin R. Tucker, deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, also remarked that runaway inflation is a major issue for most Americans and one that the president and other Democratic candidates don’t appear to be focused on. He also said the Republican Party must include minority voters in its decision-making on all of the nation’s problems.

“During the Trump presidency, the nation saw its lowest unemployment, and there was no runaway inflation,” Tucker said. Tucker is the managing director of Eagles Capital Advisors, LLC, and has been a Republican for more than 50 years.

“The GOP needs to show leadership and has to include minority leaders in decision-making to move us forward on the very important issues of concern to us. We have to be part of the discussions to find solutions to wealth disparity, poverty, and health. Immigration is important, and citizens in the commonwealth want to welcome legal immigrants. But also, the government has to demonstrate that we are the priority and be forceful in showing illegal immigrants aren’t.

“Biden is struggling to win back Black voters because the administration favors illegal immigrants. America needs a president that is going to put its citizens first and that is Donald Trump. Trump was president for four years, and the problems we have now – not being able to fill our cars with gas and high food prices – didn’t exist. As for his legal problems, they’re based in political theory, not legal theory.”

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