HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The 2016 general election wasn't too kind to Democrats in the Keystone State. Not only did the commonwealth go red in the presidential election for the first time since 1988, Republicans gained their biggest majorities in the state House and Senate since the Eisenhower administration.
Now, the beleaguered party is trying to update its message.
The PA Dems just held their annual winter meeting, and in his Keynote address, governor Tom Wolf had one particular overarching message: double down on economics.
State party chairman Marcel Groen said that's going to be key in winning back some of Pennsylvania's longtime blue collar Democrats outside of big cities--many of whom voted for Trump.
"These are areas where people are somewhat socially conservative, so the Republicans try to get us to discuss social issues when we should be talking about economic issues because they're the ones that matter," Groen said.
He conceded that some areas will be more difficult than others.
"In some of the southwest counties, it's going to take a lot more work," he said. "People have lost their jobs. They're scared. So the union affiliation is not as strong as it once was."
However, Groen added that as Trump's administration gets underway, he's actually feeling optimistic.
He said there's been a huge outpouring of grassroots support from Democrats; now the only question is how to best harness that energy.
"I've never seen protests in the street after a president's been elected, regardless of which party.," Groen said. "And those protests seem to be growing. And they're spontaneous--I mean we don't have anything to do with them."
The Democrats' main focus over the next year will be on two races in particular: Governor Tom Wolf and US Senator Bob Casey--the state's top Democrats--are both up for reelection in 2018.