Friday, October 12, 2012

Pennsylvania a Romney State?

A few months ago, if someone told me Mitt Romney could win Pennsylvania, I would have said it's a dream and a waste of time. On October 12, 25 days before the election, polling data after the first debate, has shown the Keystone State is more in play than previously thought, with the winner getting an award of 20 electoral votes. 

The state of Pennsylvania is a tale of two voters. Philadelphia is a Democrat stronghold, receiving close to 90% of the vote in 2008 and similar results in previous elections. Spreading out into the suburban counties, Democrat votes are ever-present, as in 2008, Obama won the four surrounding counties (Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Delaware) in significant fashion, gaining on Bush's 2004 vote, where he won Chester County. The other major city, Pittsburgh, tends to lean to the left, yet the suburbs of Pittsburgh are more Republican than those of Philadelphia.

Obama also did very well in Scranton, thanks to Joe Biden's connection to this region, and in the Allentown Region. While he lost counties outside of Pittsburgh, most likely due to his bitter clinger comments, he picked up Centre County (home of Penn State University) and Dauphin County (home of Harrisburg). The other counties of Pennsylvania, not as populated as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton and Scranton-Wilkes Barre, while strongly Republican, did not have the population to cancel out the Democrat votes in the rest of the state.

This year is a different story. Republicans did very well in the state in the 2010 elections and there is a renewed energy, especially within the Philadelphia suburbs. I experienced this firsthand last August when I attended a West Chester rally headlined by Paul Ryan. With Mitt Romney's renewed momentum, polls have been closing in, and there is renewed attention by the campaigns for the state.

Obama will not draw in the young voters, in 2012, to the 2008 levels, so Centre County is in play. Also, Romney will do much better in Central and Western Pennsylvania than McCain did in 2008; increasing the Republican votes in these regions. The fact that Ryan, on the trail, is reminding voters of the bitter clingers comments is also a good sign. Most imperative for Romney is to grab votes out of the Philadelphia suburbs. Ads should be playing and we should see the candidates making more visits to this region. Romney will likely win Chester County, but he also must grab at least one other county in the Philadelphia region. Furthermore, he has to win Berks County (Reading) and the Pocono region counties of Monroe and Carbon; all of which were won in 2004 by Bush.

While I'm not 100% convinced that Pennsylvania will be red, the recent news is rather telling and is garnering a lot of optimism in not only Pennsylvania, but across the northeast and the United States, for Americans who want to see a true change. If we see Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan making more frequent visits to the state in these final days, this data is legit and if after the election, the data holds true, the shift will be earth-shattering.

On October 12, my count and prediction is that Mitt Romney will net no less than 252 electoral votes, making the following 2008 blue states red: Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia and New Hampshire. If Romney wins Colorado, add 9 more to make 261. Pennsylvania wins the election for Romney, but I do not believe they should seek it at the cost of Ohio, which also wins the election for them with 18 electoral votes and is an easier goal than Pennsylvania. It's great to see Pennsylvania getting more attention and again, in the coming weeks, we will see the veracity of the data released in the past week.

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