Despite being spammed by some swingers website using the term in its least attractive light, I’ll stick with the horse that brung me as the saying goes. 🙂
Today, we move on to the Keystone State – a state that in urban and rural towns alike looks war torn, a casualty of the death of American manufacturing and the victim of liberal political machinery in the cities and the total domination of the EPA over energy policy. Here’s the perfect metaphor for you. When you drive from DC to Philly (as my family so often does to see relatives in the NW Philly suburbs), you encounter a moment where the roads go from pristine to precarious. At that moment, if you look to your right at the roadside signs, you’ll see one bidding you welcome to Pennsylvania. The failure of PA state agencies to maintain infrastructure (roads, bridges, tolls and stable power) or provide adequate services like winter snow removal and sanitation echoes the failure of the Federal Government to provide adequate resources to the military or exploit the nation’s energy resources to keep us off of oil from the Middle East. It’s not caused purely by the left’s obstructionism and poor budget-wrangling skills – if it were, than the roads in Maryland would be just as bad as they are in PA. It’s caused by an unhealthy polarization – a stalemate between conservatives in the “T” (the rural counties at the heart of the state) and liberals in Philly and Pittsburgh over what the priorities of the state must be when setting a budget. It’s a culture war that’s playing out all across this nation, but viewed in microcosm here, it looks particularly stark. In the state legislature, there is constant division between two groups of people that simple do not understand the other side and make no effort to do so because their lives are too different. Obama himself demonstrated the left’s refusal to really understand the people of the T when he famously accused them of clinging angrily to their guns, their religion, and their racism to deal with hard times.
So let’s take a look at the state over the last three election cycles and expand upon the divided (and difficult to change) landscape a bit further. There is one crucial trend that may change the way the state plays in future elections, and we’ll look at that in a moment:
- Erie (~2% of vote and dropping)
- Pittsburgh (~11-12% of vote and rapidly dropping)
- Altoona (~2% between Blair and Cambria counties)
- Harrisburg (~4% of state vote between Dauphin and Cumberland counties)
- Reading (~3% of vote and slowly rising)
- Scranton/Wilks Barre (~4-4.5% of vote and dropping between Lackawanna and Luzerne counties)
- Allentown (~2% of vote)
- Philadelphia (11.5-12% of vote and slowly rising)
Population-wise, there’s been some leakage out of left-leaning urban districts like Wilks-Barre, Scranton, Erie and Pittsburgh and some move toward swing towns like State College, Harrisburg and Allentown, with no penalty to the state’s slant behavior by group other than a modest Obama surge (less so here than other state). It’s true, in fact, that Conservatives reacted negatively to Obama’s comments about them and rejected his national surge in enthusiasm, as did the Pittsburgh suburbs that are traditionally swing counties. It was only in Philly’s swing counties where Obama got any kind of bounce. The state does not seem poised to enthusiastically support Obama…if the challenger proves himself worthy, you could see things flip here.
For what it’s worth, my family out in Montgomery and Bucks counties has been claiming that the NW Philly suburbs are trending toward Romney – much more street-sign presence for the GOP than for Obama. To win the election, we’ll need to hold places like Bucks County, the Allentown area, and the Pittsburgh suburbs, and the youth vote in the college towns will need to drop. Centre County leans right most of the time, for example, and leaned left for Obama due to increased youth turnout from Penn State.