Local leaders believe Valley will be battleground in general election

Clinton image courtesy the Associated Press: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Even though there are still more primaries to hold and the conventions are this summer, polling already suggests Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton will face each other in the general election this November.

Researchers with Quinnipiac University released their polls for the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania Tuesday morning. Donald Trump leads by four percent in the Buckeye State, while Hillary Clinton is up by just one percent in the others.

“I think that it is a good telling sign that we have a race,” said Tracey Winbush, treasurer of the Ohio Republican Party.

Mahoning County Democratic Chair Dave Betras isn’t putting a lot of faith in the numbers.

“It is going to be a dog fight, we knew that,” he said. “Polls are just that, polls. It’s within the margin of error.”

Even though Trump won easily in the Valley during Ohio’s primary in March when thousands switched parties to vote for the businessman, Betras claims that support won’t last.

“When we expose the real Donald Trump, the middle class people in the Mahoning Valley will see this is not a man who they can get behind and support.”

Betras says Democrats will focus on Trump’s record on manufacturing, immigration, unions and the minimum wage.

“That is a record of manufacturing goods in China, it is a record of being against unions, it is a record of thinking that the minimum wage is right where it should be.”

He says the Democratic Party will work to show Valley residents the differences between Clinton and Trump in the months ahead.

“Yes, Trump’s economic message appeals to some but once voters grasp what he truly stands for and against, I believe they’ll soundly reject him and the Republican Party,” Betras said.

However, Winbush believes Trump will appeal to moderates and independents.

“We have been governed from the left for so long, I don’t think anybody wants to go further left. We want somebody who’s in the middle,” she said.

Winbush actively campaigned for Governor John Kasich in the primaries. She says that while she doesn’t have a lot of respect for Trump yet, she does not think Republicans will choose Clinton.

“Republicans do not want Hillary, and will just have to bite the bullet and vote for Donald Trump.” Winbush said. “So whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump or not a supporter of Donald Trump, you are willing to put down your grievances with Donald Trump and support him because he’s better than the alternative.”

In any event, Betras and Winbush predict the Mahoning Valley will be ground zero for both parties in November.

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