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Pa.’s Got the Pundit Blues

Clockwise from top-left: Chris Borick, Larry Ceisler, Terry Madonna, Charlie Gerow

Aside a flurry of last-minute television ads, Pennsylvania has been notably absent from the battleground state conversation. No one (besides TV networks) is harder hit than Pa.’s pundits. PoliticsPA commiserated with a few of them.

“We are not as loved as we once were. I’m fielding many fewer interview requests from out of state media outlets,” said Chris Borick, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

“In 2004 and 2008 it was hard to find a day in September and October when I didn’t get a call from a reporter outside of Pennsylvania who was covering some aspect of the state’s role in the presidential election… One of my most notable memories is of a BBC reporter coming to my house to watch a presidential debate.”

“On the positive side I had more time this year to coach my youngest son’s fall baseball team and I have taken my dog on many more runs, so my family and dog are much happier with me than in past election seasons.”

“At this point in a presidential cycle, at least 10 national reporters – newsprint, national and cable – would be in the state asking where they could find certain voters like suburban female undecideds or blue collar working class voter,” said Terry Madonna, Director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll and Pa’s preeminent pundit. “So far I have gotten two calls about visits to the state.”

“Calls about PA as a swing state are few and far between,” he said. “I do get calls everyday about the the national election, about certain voters and voting trends.”

“I think I’ve done more interviews with foreign media – England, Germany, Brazil, Switzerland, Israel, Japan and France come to mind – than with national media focussing on PA,” said Charlie Gerow, Republican Political Consultant and Owner of Quantum Communications.

However, he did see an uptick in interviews during debate season

“Because I do a lot of debate preparation and advice, I get a lot of calls for comment about the debates,” he said. “I did a ton of both print and electronic media around the primary debates and even more with the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates.”

Jon Delano, the Money & Politics for KDKA in Pittsburgh, said he, too was feeling the dropoff.

“I have done a number of out-of-state radio hits on Pennsylvania in Campaign 2012, along with numerous calls from those DC-based webpages (HuffPost, RealClearPolitics, etc.),” he said, “But I agree that the Fall campaign has been less active than last Spring when my phone and email were overwhelmed with Santorum inquiries.”

“Since they can’t call Terry Madonna or Chris Borick all the time, guys like me would make up the slack,” joked Larry Ceisler, the Principal Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy (and one of the owners of PoliticsPA).

“So this year for us in the second tier, we are in a true pundit recession with the only stimulus being a possible late Romney effort,” he said, before news this week that the GOP would spend about $5.5 million on TV in Pa. this week. “The beneficiaries of course are my clients to whom I never have to tell them their work was delayed by an interview request.”

“Hopefully we will be back in the game next time. It is actually good for the state when I get a lot of calls because when politicians and the media pay attention to the state, it means they are also sensitive to our issues and challenges. And for the people who do get paid, the media in ad sales, political operatives and other vendors, it is a real boost for our economy. So though I am hoping for a D sweep from Obama on down, let’s keep it close enough so I can regain my second tier punditry status and give Madonna a break.”

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