Tough times in a Pa. town attract voters to Donald Trump

Penn. Trump supporters
Penn. Trump supporters 01:51

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- When CBS News' poll asked voters who would do better on the economy, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 11 points. Last month, they were dead even.

Tough times are drawing voters to Trump, as CBS News found out in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

There was a time when the city led the nation in steel production.

That industry, and its thousands of good paying jobs, have long since left.

"This is a small town," said John Silk. "It used to be like a small Pittsburgh. It's just...a hard hit area."

Silk is a welder, and his faith in the future has been shaken. He was a lifelong Democrat. But now, he is a Trump supporter.

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Welder John Silk. CBS News

"You can only go forward with him," he said. "I don't think you can go backwards and you sure as heck can't stay the same."

Silk said he has lost faith in the Democratic Party.

Another resident, Peter Ankney, registered as a Republican for the first time in his life, and also plans to vote Trump.

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Peter Ankney. CBS News

"We have way too many regulations," he said. "Donald Trump has talked about undoing them and getting them out of the way and letting our local industry do that they do best and just create jobs."

But restoring Johnstown's former glory is a tough order. The average income in the town is less than half the national average. And 34 percent now live in poverty.

"Our economy obviously hasn't recovered from the crisis in 2008 so we gotta start worrying about home -- we gotta take care of this place first," Ankney said.

Pennsylvania has favored Democrats in every presidential election since 1992. But this year, the ghosts of long-dead industries could have their final revenge.