Why Romney Should Not Waste Time In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has gone Democratic each year since 1988. But because the margins are usually competitive—George W. Bush came within two points of taking the state in 2004 and was within five points four years earlier. The competitiveness of the state usually earns it “battleground” status and a report from Scott Conroy at RealClearPolitics indicates that Mitt Romney believes he has a real shot to pull a modest upset here in November, while Barack Obama’s re-election team believes Pennsylvania is all but in the bag.

Political strategists putting  a rosy spin on things for their particular candidate is nothing new, but Conroy does note that what makes Pennsylvania interesting is that it’s the only state where the campaign spins disagree on whether it’s competitive or not. Current polling backs up the Obama belief, but is the Romney campaign right that the lead is rotten at its core?

I think that might be an overstatement. There are certainly problems the president’s re-election effort faces in the Keystone State. His anti-gun stance isn’t going to go over well and if a new voter ID law is upheld by the courts, it’s going to prevent mass voter fraud in Philadelphia, the kind of ballot-box stuffing the Democrats have used to great effect in my home state of Wisconsin. Passage of voter ID means a left-wing candidate like the president will really need 50.1 percent of the vote to win, not 48 percent and steal the rest.

If Romney and the GOP had ever done anything for the steel industry they might have a chance.

But those problems can be offset by the likelihood that a lot of the strong Philadelphia turnout in 2008 was legitimate, as African-Americans came out for Obama, and that’s almost certainly going to be repeated in 2012. Pittsburgh, where I lived for nine years, isn’t natural Obama territory, but it’s a lot less foreign for any Democratic candidate than it is for a Republican out of the nation’s upper economic echelon. Furthermore, the bailout of the auto industry in Michigan has positive ripple effects on steel in western Pennsylvania.

If a Republican candidate could credibly bring a platform of economic nationalism before the voters of Pennsylvania—a sustained program of protection for the steel industry—they could peel of large numbers of socially conservative Democrats and put them together with a coalition that includes the Republican-leaning central part of the state.

Obama's bigoted remarks against religious people in Pennsylvania likely won't bite him in 2012

The residents of central PA are the ones Obama was intending to denigrate in 2008 when he mocked “bitter people” who cling to “guns and religion.” But these voters alone aren’t enough to win and I see little reason to think Romney has the credibility to carry the state.

It’s fine to give rhetoric about fighting in every state, but when it comes to hard decisions about campaign spending, the Romney campaign should direct its attention elsewhere—places like Nevada and Colorado are also spots they could sting the president on blue-leaning turf and they hold out higher prospects of success.

Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com



  • frjimt

    What about the coal industry? O’s support for homosexual marriage? High unemployment? Did you also forget at republican gov corbett’s win? Senator Toomey’s win? And rendell’s rejection of the One?
    Penna. is very much in play…..

  • m.z.

    the kind of ballot-box stuffing the Democrats have used to great effect in my home state of Wisconsin.

    Perhaps you should petition the Republican Attorney General in Wisconsin with your evidence so this issue can be taken care of… …unless there is no evidence in which case you are just another blowhard just making stuff up.

  • tz1

    Perhaps Mitt can get Arlen Spectre’s endorsement – perhaps CV’s choice in the primary can ask him for anohter favor.

  • Mary

    There are some more strong points for Pa. many Democrats outside of the cities are “blue dog” Democrats, of the sort who are being shoved out of the party right now. They do not believe in government dependency, they see the government spending as out of control, and I think some of them are even seeing the morality issues as getting out of hand. Our Senate race features just this sort of former Democrat. Further, there are some very faithful Bishops who have been pressing the point of religious freedom and the interference of this Administration, like Bishop Chaput. .And lastly, there is a lively Tea Party presence here, so let’s hope for a great election!



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