Northampton County, of which it is the capital, was one of three in Pennsylvania that flipped to the Republicans in 2016, giving Mr Trump the state by a whisker. True to form, the quadrant of four streets around which Lexington accompanied Karen Frey, an amiable Republican foot-soldier wearing a red “Deplorables Club” sweatshirt (and not wearing the Trump 2020 face-mask that dangled, alongside a stun-gun, “rape alarm” and mace spray, from her wrist), displayed Trump and Biden signs in similar measure.
They otherwise offered no clue to the occupants’ affiliation. Outside the 40-odd houses Mrs Frey called on, a Virgin Mary statue or “We support our police” flag was no likelier to denote a Republican than a Democratic household. At a corner of Hickory Lane, the occupant displayed signs supporting the police, teachers and Mr Biden. “We’re not Trump here, keep walking,” he yelled at Mrs Frey through his car window. The suburb is a throwback to pre-sort America, but bristling with post-sort partisanship. The result is a rare microcosmic view of what partisanship is doing to America.
Very few who answered the door claimed to be undecided—and most were probably, as Mrs Frey conceded, being kind. Only one voter expressed weak feelings about her choice. “I vote for the party, not the candidate,” said Lisa, a lifelong Republican staunchly against abortion. Everyone else appeared fiercely decided.
Given that just over half were planning to vote Democratic (“This year more than ever,” several said), this gave rise to awkward scenes. “I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re a nice person, but I’m 92 years old, I’ve voted for Republicans and Democrats, and I cannot understand how you can like him,” a man on Hickory Lane told Mrs Frey.
He then launched a fact-filled evisceration of Mr Trump’s record, before ending, fighting back tears, on a personal note. “My father came from Italy. Trump hates migrants. My five dead brothers fought for this country. The son-of-a-bitch calls them suckers.” When Mrs Frey, visibly shaken, said this was untrue, the man quoted the president’s slander of John McCain. Mrs Frey countered with a fake-news story—that the late Republican senator killed scores of sailors in a fire. “God bless you,” said the old man.