Why Isn’t Clinton Spending Money in Pennsylvania?

Hillary Clinton ShrugThe Hillary Clinton campaign, as well as the Democratic Party as a whole, are confident that they’ll win Pennsylvania and its twenty electoral votes.

The key question right now is what makes them so sure?

The past two Quinnipiac polls show Clinton with a one point lead over Trump while the latest PPP survey had them tied.

All the while, Pennsylvania has been absent from the Clinton team’s TV ad strategy although they do have field offices in the commonwealth.

There are, of course, several reasons to buy into the Clinton campaign’s optimism.

As I’ve pointed out before, there has been a marked shift in PA’s electorate as the Appalachian western half of the state has gotten more Republican while the Acela eastern half of the state has gotten more Democratic.  

As a result, the Democratic nominee has won Pennsylvania in the last six presidential contests (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012).

This has not been for lack of trying. In 2008 and 2012, John McCain and Mitt Romney each made last-minute pushes to win PA. Even going back to 2004, George W. Bush visited Pennsylvania more than any other state (except Texas) during his first term. They all ultimately came up short.

President Obama’s 2008 Campaign Manager David Plouffe is one of those who believe Pennsylvania will stay blue.

“It would take the biggest acrobatic contortion of all-time for a Republican to win [Pennsylvania],” Plouffe stated on the “Keepin it 1600” podcast. “Now, so that will be a test for Hillary Clinton. I mean, is she willing to win it by four or five instead of seven or eight.”

Plouffe went on to double and triple down on this assertion:

Arguing against that assumption has been FiveThirtyEight and Cook Political Report writer Dave Wasserman.

Last month, Wasserman argued that PA could be the tipping point state that sends a candidate over the 270 electoral vote threshold required to win the White House.

What makes Wasserman’s point so compelling is that it doesn’t rely on anecdotes or interviews with former Democrats from western PA. Instead, he argues that Democratic support from the Philly suburbs may have peaked.

In his latest piece for FiveThirtyEight, which asks why the Clinton campaign is so confident, he displays this map which shows the change in voter registration by county since 2008.

FiveThirtyEight PA Voter Registration

The trends in Lehigh, Northampton and especially Bucks County should terrify Democrats as they need those counties to go Democratic like they did four years ago.

2012 map

Perhaps the Clinton campaign is holding back because the Democratic National Convention is in Philadelphia. The run-up and excitement around the event will provide millions worth of free advertising in that media market (not to mention Clinton’s familial connection to the Scranton area).

Nevertheless, Senate candidate Katie McGinty and PA-8 Congressional nominee Steve Santarsiero can’t be happy that Pennsylvania hasn’t been a bigger part of Secretary Clinton’s game plan.

Given that Trump’s strategy appears to concentrate on the Rust Belt, the question of whether Democrats have a solid floor in PA to rely on or if the commonwealth is drifting away from them may prove to be the most important factor come the night of November 8th.

June 23rd, 2016 | Posted in Features, Front Page Stories, Presidential, Top Stories | 11 Comments

11 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Clinton Spending Money in Pennsylvania?”

  1. bungy says:

    Plenty of Trump signs in Democratic rich Eastern Bucks County ( Croydon, Levittown, etc.). I’d be VERY WORRIED.

  2. Brad Kirsch says:

    Democrats will respond the reality in a timely manner and that response will not be done in an atmosphere of fear.

    It will be done in a manner reflective of the serious nature of the challenges this nation faces and not as a response to those who would have us waste resources before the actual convention.

    There will be time to alter the campaign spending to reflect the growing disgust of the public with the undertow of one of the most racist and xenophobic campaigns ever to scar our nation.

  3. StevenTodd says:

    Given our #BrokenSystem, the race will come down to OH and FL. TheBern could have delivered both, but Trump is likely to take at least OH.
    PA has less chance of flipping than VA and MI. They’ll juggle it back and forth from “leaning” to “solid” to keep everyone from falling asleep as the rigged game plays out, largely as predicted before there were any candidates in either party. But it isn’t in play.

  4. Ches-Mont Dem says:

    Judging by the amount of Coordinated Campaign staffers and offices popping up in SEPA, I’d say that Hillary definitely IS investing in PA…

    The Hillary campaign can switch ad buys to different states depending on how future polls work out. It takes time to develop a field program.

  5. David Diano says:

    Clinton is spending money in PA. There is staff and preparations for DNC.

    Trump has NO MONEY to spend in PA or anywhere else. The money he does spend, it blown on events/offices in his high-priced businesses.

  6. rick says:

    Just because she’s not on the air doesn’t mean she’s not investing

  7. PA Expat says:

    I really hope Clinton does start investing in the state soon, because a strong Clinton play for PA is the only way I see for McGinty to knock off Toomey. If Hillary coasts, Katie is toast!

  8. xeno says:

    I am very afraid Trump is going to win PA, and maybe even Ohio. His nativist message resonates very strongly with white blue-collar types in the Rust Belt.

  9. HaHaHa says:

    Perhaps b/c she knows she will crush that Orange Ape in PA !!!

  10. Isaac L. says:

    You probably answered your own question with the DNCC in Philly. She appears to be taking a page out of Donald Trump’s earned media book. SEPA and NEPA are part of the two most expensive media markets in PA and convention prep is a regular fixture in those media markets. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more Clinton ad buys as the campaign progresses, especially as we see how the polls play out, but there are better venues for those resources right now (Florida, Ohio, etc.).

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