Having offended constituencies vital to securing electoral success in November, including blacks, Latinos and women, Donald Trump has now seemingly surpassed himself by alienating yet another group, Ukrainian-Americans. Though the latter don’t constitute a numerically huge voting bloc, Ukrainian-Americans reside in Midwestern battlegrounds such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, swing states which Trump must win.
Traditionally, Ukrainian-Americans have skewed toward the Republican Party which took a hard line toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Now, however, Ukrainian-Americans may abandon the GOP due to Trump’s apologetic stance toward Putin and Russia. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who in turn had sought to ally his country to Russia before he himself was ousted during the Maidan revolution, may also prompt Ukrainian-Americans to jettison the Republican Party.
Currently, there are more than 20 million Ukrainians living abroad, of which one million reside in the U.S. In Ohio, Ukrainian-Americans are mostly congregated around Cleveland and some 45,000 people stateside trace their roots back to the Old Country. In Pennsylvania meanwhile, Ukrainian-Americans number more than 120,000. Other sizable populations reside in must-win states like Michigan and Florida. The expat community has long-standing ties to Midwestern members of Congress serving on the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus.
Within the Rust Belt, Ukrainian-Americans have been politically active over the past few years. In Pennsylvania, for example, the local community around Pittsburgh has sent medical supplies to the fledgling government in Kiev which has found itself at war with Russian-backed separatists. Moreover, when Russia invaded Crimea and later hastily organized a referendum, Ukrainian-Americans in Pittsburgh voiced their concerns about Kremlin interventionism to local Republican Congressman Tim Murphy. In Philadelphia meanwhile, Ukrainian-Americans have rallied in support of Kiev and support sanctions against Russia.
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