Dec 05, 2011 5:27 PM GMT
Never mind that Republicans swept the state in last year's midterm elections, taking a majority of U.S. House seats, a U.S. Senate seat, both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor's mansion -- Pennsylvania is still 4 percent more "Democrat" than her Midwestern counterparts.
The latest survey from liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling showed 59 percent of white Pennsylvania voters disapprove of Obama's job performance, a rate usually found among Southern voters.
Sean Trende, a RealClearPolitics numbers analyst, said that while the president could write off Pennsylvania and win, it would be difficult. "The key would be holding the Bush states he won in the Mountain West -- Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, plus Virginia and North Carolina."
That path gives him 280 electoral votes and assumes he will lose Indiana and Ohio, which he almost certainly will if he loses Pennsylvania.
Obama's main problem in Pennsylvania is downscale whites, said Trende: "The white working class has never been crazy about this president, and really only came on board with the collapse of the stock market in September of 2008."
It has nothing to do with race. "He called them 'bitter,'" Trende said -- and they have never forgotten that.
If Obama writes off Pennsylvania, he's basically conceding he can't win the Pittsburgh area outside Allegheny County and is running poorly in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
"In the long run, the Philly suburbs can conceivably provide enough votes to overcome this," Trende said, though he hasn't seen evidence of that yet.
Without a collapsing economy to remind these voters why they're still Democrats, they will vote Republican. Indeed, a just-stagnant economy on a Democrat's watch doesn't help.
Six weeks ago, Obama visited Pittsburgh. The union crowd was thin. Enthusiasm was nonexistent; so were local elected Democrats, who opted to shake his hand at the airport rather than stand on stage with him while he talked about jobs.