Spoke Salena Zito, Lara Brown, Jim McTague, in re the Pennsylvania presidential contest, and learned that the OFA is sending Bill Clinton to Allegheny County and Bucks County in order to counter the surging Romney-Ryan enthusiasm. (Left Tagg and Ben Romney visit PA homeowner.) PA divides into three election challenges: the dominantly Democratic east is Philadelphia County and the Collar counties of Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Bucks. The Republican center is dominated by Harrisburg and is what the wags call "Alabama." The divided west is build of conservative Democrats and Republicans from Pittsburgh to Erie, heavily persuaded by the energy policies of coal country, what Salena Zito calls "Pennsyltucky." Over the last months of the primary and general campaign, I have followed the electioneering from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh closely in order to see a change in direction for this cycle that matches the 2010 Tea Party change. What I was witnessing in pieces was the transformation of the Keystone State from a solid Democratic base that supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary (out of devotion to Bill Clinton's two terms and Al Gore's and John Kerry's failed bids) into a confused and reluctant citizenry that shows openly its disappointment with POTUS Obama at least since the fall of 2010.
PA 2004 and 2008
Is this transformation enough to swing the vote to Romney? Unknown. However I am told that the west around Allegheny County is overwhelmingly Romney, perhaps by as much as 13 points in recent testing, while the central zone is two to one Republican. This makes the east the puzzle. Lara Brown tells me that her study shows Romney doing better than McCain did in the west in 2008 (when Obama won the state by 620k), and better than Bush did in the east in 2004 (when Kerry won the state by 145k, entirely in Philadelphia County, where Kerry was plus 412k to make up for his deficit in the rest of the state: see map of the 2004 PA.)
I am told that a Republican analysis of the whole state through more than three dozen polls for the state legislature (which is dominantly Republican working with a Republican governor in Harrisburg) is that the Democrats need plus 550k in Philadelphia to offset the expected 2012 deficit in the rest of the state. In 2008, Obama's surplus in Philadelphia County was a rich 478k. Can OFA do better in 2012 is the question? (And the deeply strange and unfunny smear tactics in the video below, which is an official OFA campaign release, suggest that OFA has large doubts about itself.)
Romney to Bucks County; Ryan to Dauphin County.
Saturday morning, Paul Ryan traveled to Harrisburg in Dauphin County in the middle of the dominantly central Republican field of the state. George Bush won Dauphin by plus 10k in 2004 and Mr. Obama won Dauphin by plus 9k in 2008; it is a swing part of the center. Romney goes into the east at Bucks County, which Mr. Bush won by plus 9k in 2004 and Mr. Obama won by 29k in 2008-- a swing part of the state, also. The Romney-Ryan team's ability to move the numbers in either counties is what drives the late decision to advertise in PA (both the campaign and the SuperPACs) and to use the candidates in the closing hours. In any event, the last weekend visits by the Republican candidates -- gambit, ploy, lunge or raid? --will not make the OFA GOTV task in Philadelphia County easier or more obvious. The busy beaver DNC dam of the Collar Counties is leaking badly. Can Bill Clinton alone save the Keystone State for OFA?
Storm Named Sandy.
Philly.com reports scattered troubles with polling machine deliveries and power at the voting sites in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks County. It is not possible to measure these reports in terms of GOTV, however it is fair to measure that the power-outage is unwelcome by both sides. At the Ryan rally in a Harrisburg hanger on Saturday morning 3 November, Senator Pat Toomey predicted a Republican win in Pennsylvania. Toomey's close, determined, passionate victory over the well-organized and conservative-flavored Democratic Joe Sestak in 2010 gives Mr. Toomey fresh credibility. Finally, with 72 hours until the close of election booths in the East, it seems puzzling that Mr. Obama is playing defense in Blue Wisconsin while Mr. Romney is playing offense in Blue Pennsylvania. Will a Storm named Sandy be the explanation for a lower voter turn out in Philadelphia and the Collar Counties? If POTUS comes close to winning PA and fails, will OFA blame Sandy for the weak results? If Romney comes close and fails to winning PA, will the GOP blame a Storm named Sandy?