“It is a disaster, the way African Americans are living,” Trump said during a rally in Akron, Ohio, to a mostly white crowd. “I will straighten it out. … We'll get rid of the crime. You'll be able to walk down the street without getting shot.” But to black Americans, including those in one neighborhood here,Trump could not seem more detached from reality: Voting for him is an idea most won’t even entertain.
On a chilly evening in mid-October, I joined Kareema Lewis, a Philly native and paid canvasser for the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund, the super PAC affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters working to elect Clinton, for a three-hour door-knocking session. Lewis was targeting a working-class section of Overbrook, a West Philadelphia neighborhood roughly 30 minutes from the city’s center. Of the dozens of people I encountered, there on the edge of the City of Brotherly Love, not a single person had any affection for Trump.
“He’s a fucking bigot, man,” 22-year-old Cajuan Norris told me, sitting on the stone steps of her house wearing sweatpants and slippers. “It’s not a hard decision at all.” Norris, who works as a hair stylist, was on the phone when Lewis knocked on her door, but when she realized Lewis was canvassing for Clinton, Norris hung up and came outside.
“[Clinton] is trying to make sure people are treated equally, she cares about what’s going on with African Americans and the police,” Norris said. “I feel like Trump cares about money. If he is in office, the rich is gonna get rich, and the poor is gonna stay poor.” Norris studied the smiling picture of Hillary Clinton on the LCV flier Lewis handed her. “She been doin’ this. He don’t have experience with this shit.”
Overbrook is predominantly black—the kind of neighborhood Trump has painted with a broad dystopian brush. But on Yeadon Avenue, the disconnect between Trump’s words and reality was visible, as all was mostly quiet along the rows of semi-detached homes, the porches dotted with well-worn chairs and potted plants. Only dogs yapping behind closed doors and a group of kids laughing and running between yards punctuated the quiet.
Not only is this the kind of neighborhood Trump has vilified in an attempt to convince its residents to vote for him, but it’s also the kind of neighborhood Trump has suggested must be monitored as its people head to the polls in November. Trump has warned of potential voting fraud “shenanigans” during his rallies, pointing specifically to Philadelphia and calling on his supporters to “go around and watch other polling places.”
“I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us,” Trump said at a rally in northeast Pennsylvania. “And everybody knows what I’m talking about.” But despite his best efforts, Philly is likely, as it has in past elections, to go for the Democratic candidate: More than 83 percent of Philadelphia County went for Obama in 2008, and in dozens of districts in 2012, Mitt Romney reportedly didn’t receive a single vote.