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Is the Keystone State doing what it did in 1980 — and is it alone?
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Yet note that sentence again from the Times (bold emphasis mine): The “negative reason” to vote against Carter “that did not turn up in the telephone poll but came up repeatedly in door-to-door interviews was the hostage situation in Iran.”
So what do we have in Pennsylvania this year? What are the Reagan Pivot points that are appearing across the state?
• Northeastern Pennsylvania: As Congressman Paul Ryan pointed out to a momentarily speechless Joe Biden, the Scranton unemployment rate was 8% when Obama and Biden took office — and it’s now 10%. In 2010, the head of the Catholic Mercy hospital in Scranton (where Joe Biden was born) was momentarily candid enough to admit to a local TV reporter that the passage of Obamacare was the reason why three area Catholic hospitals including Mercy were being sold. The two pro-Obamacare Democrats representing the area lost their re-election bids shortly thereafter.
• Philadelphia: With a 44% black population and a black mayor, the unemployment level for this key Obama constituency is 13.3%. In the words of the local Urban League’s president: ”The economic landscape for Black Philadelphians is particularly bleak.”
On top of which is the Benghazi episode — which features vivid stories of a White House ordering potential rescuers to “stand down” as four Americans were brutally murdered by Sharia-loving Islamic supremacists is doubtless quietly resonating. In other words, exactly the kind of issue that resonates with Reagan Democrats in places like South Philly — but was not seen as important by the Times in 1980.
• Western Pennsylvania: This Democratic stronghold was the bane of Obama’s fight against Hillary and later McCain. Specifically, as our friends at PoliticsPA, noted, in 2008 Obama had an “undervote” problem. There were Democrats who walked into the polls — and while not voting for John McCain simply refused to vote for Obama. In the words of the Franklin and Marshall poll’s Terry Madonna:
“The first point is that most, not all, [of the undervote is] in culturally conservative counties which we would call many of the Democrats there ‘Reagan Democrats,’” he said. “Some are in rural counties. As you know, the President has problems with blue collar working class voters. He had that in 2008 and he faces the same problem now. That may not get better with his support for gay marriage and immigration reform. Also these are areas that tend to have higher unemployment which does not help.
• Central Pennsylvania: Central Pennsylvania, like those four Philadelphia suburban counties, is historically Republican turf. The enthusiasm for Romney here is powered not by racism, as Democrats love to charge — but by Obamanomics, Obamacare, and cultural issues. The latter of which is shared by Reagan Democrats.
Not to be overlooked in all of this is the hard-core belief that Obama is anti-fossil fuels. To be seen as anti-coal and anti-fracking is a considerable problem in a state where coal mining jobs and the jobs that flow from the fracking for the natural gas of the Marcellus Shale are the bread and butter of many Democrats.
What do we have here? What induces Reagan Pivots away from a liberal Democrat?
A culturally conservative state. A state where energy sector jobs are seen as life’s blood. A state with a lot of Catholics. And an Obama Administration that is seen as being culturally far-left, anti-coal, anti-fracking, anti-Catholic and that has produced an abysmal jobs climate.
Does this mean an enthusiastic embrace of Mitt Romney? Yes — among Republicans. The so-called “intensity factor” is hard at work here. Among Democrats? It means the same thing — in reverse. The magic of the fall, 2008 campaign for Obama is gone. They have been replaced by a series of Reagan Pivots. The black community in Philadelphia struggles. Jobs are the issue everywhere. The long allegiance between Democrats and coal miners is ruptured. Pennsylvania doctors are furious. Catholics are insulted and angry.
And so on. And on.
The way this is working itself out in the polls is captured by that Franklin and Marshall poll just released yesterday. In a state with all these Democrats, Obama is dropping…dropping…dropping, the F&M poll showing an Obama 11-point lead from September cut to 4 points. A Susquehanna poll actually had Romney in the lead 49%-45% .
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