Luzerne County PA, Which Voted for Obama Then Trump, Sees Rise in Registered Republicans

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania was crucial to President Donald Trump's 2016 election. So much so that some political analysts think the county effectively handed Trump the presidency.

New figures from Luzerne County may make positive reading for the president's current campaign as the Republican Party has seen a significant increase in registrations since 2016.

While the number of registered Democrats there remains greater, the local GOP has seen party registrations rise by more than 12 percent since Pennsylvania voters helped Trump clinch the White House.

The Luzerne County Republican Party has added 9,081 registered voters in the four years since 2016, bringing their total to 83,197, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State Figures.

By contrast, Democrats have lost 3,097 voters over the same period. This leaves them with 104,958 registrations—a fall of less than three percent.

Local voters opted for Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 57.9 percent to 38.6 percent in 2016. This was a margin of more than 26,000 votes.

However, the county voted for former President Barack Obama in 2012 by a margin of more than 6,000 votes. Obama carried Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2012 before Trump won a narrow victory there, winning by less than one percent.

Luzerne County is also the center of an FBI investigation into nine discarded ballots. The only voters in the county who have received absentee ballots so far are military and civilian personnel based overseas, an official told the Times Leader.

County officials maintain that the recent investigation proves the integrity of the election. They blamed an independent contractor, who has now been dismissed, and said they would do their best to contact the voters involved and make sure their votes were counted.

Justin Behrens, chairman of the Luzerne County Republican Party, told the Citizens' Voice that the party had distributed 5,800 Trump signs ahead of the election on November 3.

"They are not going in corners of roads or on telephone poles, because they don't vote. They are going in people's yards, showing their support for the President of the United States," he said.

"You're going to see record-breaking numbers in Luzerne County. Luzerne County did it for him in 2016 and he recognizes that. You're going to see more visits from the Trump campaign. That energizes people.

"We are going to win larger than we did before," Behrens said.

The most recent polls show former Vice President Joe Biden leading Trump in Pennsylvania by five points, though others indicate an even wider lead for the Democrat in what may be a crucial contest.

President Donald Trump Reacts to a Question
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to a question during a news conference in the Briefing Room of the White House on September 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump is preparing for the first presidential debate with former Vice President and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden on September 29th in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican registrations are up in a county crucial to Trump's 2016 victory. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images