[Ed. – Will it matter that Biden holds some pretty unCatholic views?]
Sixty years ago today, with a presidential election looming, John F. Kennedy embarked on a brutal, 18-hour campaign tour of eastern Pennsylvania. The state, then possessing 32 Electoral College votes, was crucial for Kennedy to win against Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee. In the industrial cities and towns that Kennedy’s campaign targeted, it was an exuberant season—and would prove more so after his subsequent victory, especially for those Catholics who viewed the Democratic candidate’s triumph as a kind of cultural enfranchisement.
Decades later, in 2016, descendants of those Kennedy supporters were pivotal to Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania victory. As it happens, they reside in the same areas—the anthracite coal region and Lehigh Valley—that were the keystone to Kennedy’s win. Next Tuesday, these voters—battered by a pandemic, divided by tumult—will decide if Trump wins a second term, or if Joe Biden becomes America’s second Catholic president.