It was a Thursday night in January, before the coronavirus shut everything down, meaning it was time for bingo at St. Andrew Parish in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Three dozen regulars—almost all of them women—filed into the church basement. Some grabbed “cuts” of pizza from the front of the room; a few lingered in the cold for one last smoke. As the clock approached 6:00, they settled into metal folding chairs, spread out their game sheets, and focused on the numbers.
The entire political world, in turn, has been focused on these women and the numbers—and potential power—they represent. The bingo players are part of the white working class, a prized group that helped elect Donald Trump in 2016. Many are Democrats who supported Barack Obama in one or both of his races and had never pulled the GOP lever before. To Republicans they represent the path to the president’s reelection. To Democrats they personify opportunity, a chance to siphon off just enough Trump votes in swing states to remove him from office. “I don’t need to win them,” said Democratic pollster Jill Normington. “I need to lose by less.”
The above excerpt was originally published in Vanity Fair.
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