A first time candidate astonishes by carrying all Pennsylvania counties.
Strike up the music the band has begun
The Pennsylvania Polka.
Pick out your partner and join in the fun
The Pennsylvania Polka.
It started in Scranton, it’s now No. 1
It’s bound to entertain you
Everybody has a mania
To do the polka from Pennsylvania
And so go the beginning lyrics to what is perhaps (qualifier intended for fans of other songs) the unofficial hymn to William Penn’s Commonwealth. Way back there when Gerald Ford was president I recall being at a GOP fundraiser in Philadelphia where Ford and former Pennsylvania Governor and then-Ford UN Ambassador William Scranton were the stars. In the middle of the event, the band conveniently struck up the Pennsylvania Polka, which features the line that “It started in Scranton” — the namesake ancestral hometown of Bill Scranton — and the ex-governor jumped to his feet with wife Mary and actually did the polka to the roar of the crowd.
Bill Scranton was one very popular governor. But he never came close to carrying all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties when he was elected governor. As a matter of fact, neither has any other popular Pennsylvania politician. Not to mention neither has any presidential candidate or sitting president, including the very popular FDR and Ronald Reagan.
But last Tuesday night? Donald Trump did just that. Yes, indeed, the billionaire next door from neighboring New York carried all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties. Yes, it was a primary. But nonetheless it was a feat unaccomplished by Reagan or FDR at the height of their popularity, not to mention and endless stream of popular governors and senators of both parties in either a primary or a general. Not to put too fine a point on this, but some version of this feat was accomplished by Trump in GOP primaries in Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut on the same day.
And Ted Cruz? Trump defeated him by more than double Cruz’s 21% vote total. With Cruz doing equally dismally in the other four Northeastern states.
Look. I love Ted Cruz and he at this point is none too happy with me. But at some point, folks, ya gotta demonstrate vote-getting ability around the United States if you want to be President of the United States. And the harsh fact here is that Senator Cruz just hasn’t gotten his act together. It’s all well and good to pick the estimable Carly Fiorina as your running mate in some sort of Hail Mary situation — or even pick her in a non-Hail Mary situation. But with the possible and solitary selection of Texan Lyndon Johnson to help JFK win in 1960, there has been no vice-presidential running mate who has evidenced any ability to carry the number one guy over the finish line.
To the contrary, as witness the selection of the unpopular Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew (by Nixon in 1968) and the un-ready and young Indiana Senator Dan Quayle in 1988 (by G.H.W. Bush), not to mention the popular performance of Democrat and Maine Senator Ed Muskie in 1968 (by Hubert Humphrey) and if anything comes clear it is that LBJ was the exception who proved the rule. The rule being that VP selections don’t really help or hurt to any discernible degree. Voters want to know about the top banana. And in Cruz’s case, he hasn’t been able to sell himself, let alone convince voters that his Fiorina selection is anything more than yet another political Hail Mary pass that, like the crazy anti-Trump Cruz/Kasich alliance that imploded almost immediately upon announcement, is going anywhere.
Years ago, on the eve of what would be a failed re-election attempt, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter told a group of state conservatives that Pennsylvania was a purple state. Certainly it may have seemed that way in the day. But Specter was never accused of being a wild-eyed radical in any fashion that stuck — and even in his five winning Senate elections never once did Arlen Specter carry all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
What does this mean in practical terms?Here’s the headlinefrom PennLive, the on-line version of my hometown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper:
Trump shows a ground game; backs up big Pa. popular vote win with big RNC delegate haul
The story reads in part:
It turns out Pennsylvania was a “winner-take-most-delegates” state for Republican primary winner Donald J. Trump, after all.
If they live up to their collective word, Pennsylvania’s newly-elected Republican National Convention delegation is going to be carrying at least 55 first-ballot votes for the New York businessman.
And that means the “stop Trump” movement lost a golden opportunity to gain some traction: Barring any political back-tracking, the GOP’s frontrunner is now within 250 delegates of a first-ballot majority.
Most national delegate trackers on Tuesday night — including only the 17 at-large votes he pocketed in Pennsylvania for winning the statewide popular vote.
But based on — and what delegate candidates told PennLive, other news organizations and voters this spring about their intent — Trump’s in line to get at least 55 votes of the state’s 71 delegates at the July convention.
And that would leave the GOP’s frontrunner with roughly 988 delegates as of Wednesday morning.
In other words? Donald Trump just polkaed his way into the bulk of the 71-member Pennsylvania delegation — if not even more or all of it.
And politely put? Carly Fiorina may well be a swell dance partner. But unfortunately for Senator Cruz, he’s the one who has to do the leading in this dance, and alas he doesn’t know how to do the political version of the Pennsylvania polka. The fact that New Yorker Trump — albeit with a degree from Wharton, one of the Commonwealth’s finest schools — knows how to do the Pennsylvania political polka here in such an overwhelming fashion? This says everything one needs to know about a potential GOP nominee who might indeed be able to break an almost quarter-century long habit of Republican presidential nominees being absolutely unable to put one political front in front of another when November presidential elections roll around.
As the old song says:
“Strike up the music the band has begun…”
To borrow from Rocky Balboa, that famous if fictional Pennsylvania hero? Yo Adrienne! Donald Trump knows how to do the Pennsylvania political polka!