Donald Trump has been taken to task for claiming, in his speech announcing the United States would exit from the Paris climate "treaty," that "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." Numerous people have pointed out that Trump did not carry the city of Pittsburgh; it voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin of 75 to 21 percent. They might have added that surrounding Allegheny County, taken as a whole, voted 56 to 39 percent for Clinton over Trump.
But it's also true that Trump did carry the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, which by government definition includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. After all, when people mention a city's name, they are often referring not just to the area within the municipal limits of the central city, but to the larger metropolitan area.
Boston is often understood to include Cambridge, Los Angeles to include Beverly Hills, etc., etc.
Trump carried metro Pittsburgh over Hillary Clinton by 50 to 46 percent, rounding off each result to integers. This was only the fourth time in the last 75 years that a Republican presidential candidate has carried metro Pittsburgh: Mitt Romney won it 50 to 49 percent in 2012, Richard Nixon by 56 to 42 percent in 1972 and Dwight Eisenhower by 53 to 46 percent in 1956. The latter two were in years of national Republican landslides, and the only two times in 65 years when a Republican nominee won a significantly higher percentage there than did Trump (49.6 percent) or Romney (49.7 percent). And Trump received more popular votes in metro Pittsburgh (573,467) than any other Republican except Nixon in 1972 (580,268) and Eisenhower in 1956 (575,540).
In contrast, Clinton's 46 percent was the second-lowest percentage in metro Pittsburgh of any nominee in the last 65 years, ahead of George McGovern's 42 percent in 1972 and fractionally lower than Adlai Stevenson's 46 percent in 1956. The number of popular votes she won in the metro area (531,901) was 497 votes ahead of Barack Obama in 2012 (531,404), but behind Obama in 2008 (575,893), John Kerry in 2004 (597,172), Michael Dukakis in 1988 (559,611), Walter Mondale in 1984 (597,418), Jimmy Carter in 1976 (535,784), Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (573,276), Lyndon Johnson in 1964 (754,677), John F. Kennedy in 1960 (647,611) and Adlai Stevenson in 1952 (573,390).
These numbers reflect significant changes in political alignment and attitudes in metro Pittsburgh that are typical of some other parts, but not most parts, of the nation. This is an area with very low population growth: Turnout in 1960 (1,162,995) was higher than in 2016 (1,157,318), though that latter number was higher than in any election year in between. Historically, Pittsburgh was dominated economically by the steel industry and politically, from the 1930s to the 1980s, by management/union differences. The shutdown of many steel mills in the 1979-82 period produced a swing toward the Democratic party, contrary to the national trend: Walter Mondale carried metro Pittsburgh 56 percent to 44 percent and Michael Dukakis carried it 59 percent to 40 percent.
Since then, metro Pittsburgh has developed a post-industrial economy, heavily weighted toward meds and eds: healthcare (it's the only million-plus metro area with more deaths than births) and tech, driven by institutions like Carnegie-Mellon University. The central city of Pittsburgh has only about half the population it did in 1950 and casts only 13 percent of the metro area's votes; it is also increasingly gentrified, with many old buildings rehabilitated and neat entertainment and restaurant districts.
Pittsburgh is something of an outlier among our 50 or so million-plus metro areas. Once more Democratic than most, especially in the 1980s, it is now more Republican than most — proof that the Trump constituency is not simply a revival of the Reagan constituency. Its voting over the years shows the waning of affection for the Democratic party among blue collar and Catholic voters. Its voting in 2016 were not widely out of line with a movement this century away from the Democratic party, but was a significant extension of it — enough to give the Republican nominee, for the first time since 1988, Pennsylvania's electoral votes.
This trend provides justification for Donald Trump's statement that he was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, but only if you understand him to be referring to the metropolitan area, not the central city that cast 13 percent of its votes.