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