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The Pennsylvania Gambit

October 22, 2008

Since the convention, I have been arguing that Pennsylvania is the key to this election. In recent weeks, my argument has looked a bit ugly if we are to follow RCP. However, it should be noted that each of the RCP polls listed has a sample size of 500-700 and I don’t even know what methodology Morning Call and Susquehanna use.  SurveyUSA has been all over the place this year.  Recently, the McCain/Palin camp has been spending an inordinate amount of time in Pennsylvania. Cynics may see this as the Hail Mary, but I think there is something more to this. The rallies in Pennsylvania have been having marvelous turnout all extremely jazzed for Palin.  In addition, we have good old Jack Murtha calling his constituency racists and rednecks.He does this even though western Pennsylvania voted in favour of a black man, Lynn Swann, in the last gubernatorial race while urban Pennsylvania did not:

However, what Rendell fails to do is actually look at the county-by-county results of the 2006 gubernatorial election where he soundly dispatched of Lynn Swann by a 20-point margin. If Rendell had bothered to actually look at the election results, he would find that the reason Swann lost was because Lynn Swann got absolutely crushed in the Philadelphia region by 80% to 20% ratio, losing the City of Philadelphia by a 90% – 10% margin. That accounts for about 45% of the total statewide vote.

It was with the mostly white, moderate-to-liberal Philadelphia suburban voters (those supposedly enlightened enough to vote for a black candidate) that Rendell racked up the big margin over Mr. Swann that propelled him to victory. Furthermore, in the most liberal part of the state, the “City of Brotherly Love,” black voters voted 95% against the first black gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania of a major party.

When we turn our attention to the more rural, conservative areas of the state; we see that in 2006 not only did those areas vote for a black candidate, but that Rendell’s conservative-whites-that-won’t-vote-for-blacks voted for Lynn Swan in a greater numbers than Rick Santorum. In conservative bastions such as Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and Adams counties Swann ran well ahead of Republican Rick Santorum. This despite the fact Santorum was better funded, better known and, by the way, white. Overall Lynn Swann ran ahead of Rick Santorum in rural central and Western Pennsylvania, where the state’s most conservative voters live.

It seems that there is some validity to my theory here. Ed Rendell has called upon Obama to come back to Pennsylvania for another rally before the election:

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has sent two separate memos to the Obama campaign in the past five days requesting that the Democratic Presidential candidate—as well as Hillary and Bill Clinton—return to campaign in Pennsylvania, Rendell told CNN’s Gloria Borger.

Rendell said the McCain campaign is clearly making a push to win Pennsylvania, given the recent visits by the Arizona senator, his wife and his running mate. As a result, he wants Obama to appear in western Pennsylvania, Harrisburg and one more “large rally” in Philadelphia. Democrats generally worry that the race is significantly closer than what recent polls have suggested. According to Rendell, there is also worry among Democrats the McCain campaign has successfully raised the enthusiasm level among Republicans in the state.

Realistically, I don’t know if Pennsylvania is winnable at this point, but I have no idea what McCain’s internal polling is showing.  Conventional wisdom would advise a deployment of Palin to Colorado to court the libertarian west, but hopefully they know something that I don’t.

UPDATE: Fantastic, I finish this post, switch over to Spectator and what do I see, the Other McCain has found that the One has a two point lead in Pennsylvania. R.S. McCain notes that the leak is attributed to an Obama organizer.

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