U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) told fellow Pennsylvania Democrats last week that her Carbon County constituents “drank the Trump Kool-Aid” and she was “dismayed” when redistricting added them to her district last year. It’s the second time Wild has made comments her critics say are insulting to Pennsylvania voters.
“I acquired Carbon County as part of my district last year,” Wild said in a Zoom conference that included Sen. Bob Casey and Democratic Reps. Chris Deluzio and Matt Cartwright. “And Matt did not then represent it. Matt had represented Carbon County in the past and so was very valuable to me in terms of talking to him. It was represented by Dan Mueser. After Trump came along, it went from sort of a working-class blue district. So they drank the Trump Kool-Aid, and it really became a red county.
“So, I was dismayed, frankly, when I got that as part of my district. But what I have learned is since then is they were sorely neglected at the federal level under their last representative, who was a Republican,” Wild added.
Wild’s Pennsylvania’s 7th District is in the Lehigh Valley and includes Allentown, Bethlehem Easton, and Carbon County. President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in the district in 2020 by 0.6 percent. But Trump won Carbon County by more than 65 percent.
The Cook Political Report rates Wild’s 2024 race as a “toss-up.”
“Susan Wild knows she’s too extreme for the people she represents and thus resorts to insulting them. This isn’t the first time she’s disparaged her constituents, and it likely won’t be that last,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Marinella.
In 2022, Wild said Carbon County voters needed to be “schooled” over their support for Trump, suggesting they were intellectually challenged.
“I’m not quite sure what was in their heads because the people of Carbon County are exactly the kind of people who should not be voting for a Donald Trump, but I guess I might have to school them on that a little bit,” Wild said.
Muhlenberg College political science Professor Christopher Borick called Wild’s comments a political misstep.
“Certainly, Congresswoman Wild’s comments on voters in Carbon County are not helpful to her reelection bid in a very competitive district,” Borick said. “Carbon County is overwhelmingly Republican and by no means the base of her support. But an unforced error like this is not going to make her bid for a fourth term any easier.”
Democrats have steadily lost support among blue-collar, working-class voters over the past decade. In 2020, Donald Trump beat Biden among those voters by four points. In the most recent New York Times/Siena College poll “Biden’s deficit among these voters at 17 points, 13 points worse than 2020,” notes Ruy Teixeira of the American Enterprise Institute.
“This very trend explains a lot about Biden’s current poor position in general election polls, where he is running behind Trump both nationally and in most swing states,” Teixeira wrote.
Although Democrats still enjoy support from many union leaders, the workers are leaning Republican, especially since Trump took the political stage in 2015. The United Auto Workers Union leadership recently endorsed Biden, but UAW President Shawn Fain admitted many rank-and-file members would vote for Trump.
One reason is the perception that the Democratic Party’s leadership shares Wild’s disregard for working-class voters. During the 2008 campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama was widely criticized for comments made at an upscale San Francisco fundraiser about the people living in “small towns in Pennsylvania” who “cling to their guns or religion.”
Four years later, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton put Trump’s blue-collar voters in the “basket of deplorables.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately 65,000 people live in Carbon County. Of adults older than 25, 17.9 percent have a bachelor’s degree, and the county’s median income is $6,000 below the state’s average.
Voters first elected Wild, a lawyer, in 2018. There are currently four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination and the chance to challenge Wild in the November general election: State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh), Maria Montero, Kevin Dellicker, and Allen Issa.
“It’s the honor of my lifetime to represent Carbon County in Congress and I’m grateful for the partnership I have with my constituents there. The first thing I did upon representing Carbon County was open an office in Lehighton so I could assist as many constituents as possible in dealing with federal agencies. I’ll continue to work tirelessly on their behalf,’ Wild said.