Will Dems Go All-In For Pennsylvania?

Wolf-HillaryHillary Clinton has the slight advantage in the Keystone State at the moment.

The latest survey has her hold a four point lead over Donald Trump. The Democratic Party has also won Pennsylvania in six straight presidential elections, last losing the commonwealth in 1988.

This has led some prolific party operatives to insist that PA will remain in the blue column come November 8th. The leader of this group is Obama 2008 Campaign Manager David Plouffe.

“It would take the biggest acrobatic contortion of all-time for a Republican to win [Pennsylvania],” Plouffe recently stated. “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.”

The President’s political guru continually reiterated this point over the last few weeks.



Today, Plouffe was even more explicit.


This reflects the Obama team’s strategy in 2008 and 2012 when John McCain and Mitt Romney each made last-ditch efforts for Pennsylvania. Both times the Obama campaign ignored them and both times they won the state. In 2012, though, Romney narrowed the margin.

In a way, this strategy makes a lot of sense. Why should it matter whether you candidate wins 54.49% of the vote (Obama’s 2008 total) or 51.97% of the vote (Obama’s 2012 total)? Either way you get all twenty electoral votes.

There are people, though, which it matters quite a lot to: the down-ballot candidates.

Take the Senate for example. In this era of declining split-ticket voting, that two-and-a-half point shift could be the difference between a second term for GOP Sen. Pat Toomey or a first term for Democrat Katie McGinty. Not to mention congressional (ex. PA-8) and state legislative races.

Plouffe’s comments are a perfect illustration of perhaps the Democratic Party’s biggest frustration with President Obama. Namely, that he was never interested in building the party.

The Clintons, on the other hand, are legendary networkers (especially Bill) and Hillary has already called for resurrecting Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy.

Viewed in that light, Pennsylvania seems a much more likely Democratic target for the Clinton campaign. In fact, a Clinton has never lost a PA contest. Bill won the PA Democratic primaries in 1992 and 1996 as well as taking the state in both general election contests. Then Hillary won the Democratic primaries in 2008 and 2016. Her father was even born in Scranton.

Despite all that, though, the campaign is not running TV ads in Pennsylvania. Instead the Priorities USA Super PAC is hitting the airwaves instead (notable tidbit: Paul Begala, senior advisor to Priorities, first caught Bill Clinton’s attention helping Harris Wofford win the 1991 PA Senate special election).

While it would be hard to imagine the candidate giving short shrift to the home of the Democratic National Convention, it did happen four years ago. After Charlotte hosted the DNC, President Obama never returned to North Carolina and lost the state by just two points. His team would likely argue, however, that any effort was better spent in Florida where the President won the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes by only 0.88%.

At this time, the Clinton campaign appears to be split between the Plouffe view (he’s an informal consultant) and the more conventional view.

All the while, several polls show a close race and Trump has made it clear he is targeting PA with two visits in the past month to the increasingly Republican Southwestern portion of the commonwealth.

Thus the Clinton team is left with a conundrum. Leave PA on the back burner and hope they hold on or put serious resources into the state. Either way, that decision will have countless repercussions for the Keystone State come the night of November 8th.  

8 Responses

  1. I’ve been surfing online greater than 3 hours as of late, yet I never found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is lovely worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net will probably be a lot more helpful than ever before.


  2. Don’t let anyone fool you. The Clintons and the Democratic Party will be in PA only as far as serves her purposes. That means following the Ed Rendell strategy of 2002 and concentrating on the voter rich, and increasingly Democratic, eastern part of the state as sufficient to secure the 20 electoral votes. The western part of the state will essentially be abandoned for fear that if voter turn out is encouraged, no one can predict what will happen. The consequence will be that down ballot Democratic candidates for the state house and senate in the west will be left to twist in the wind. Expect additional Democratic losses at this level.

  3. Don’t worry, Irish. Pat Toomey is a do-nothing garden gnome. His accomplishments = Helping special interests.

  4. I agree with you on the Supreme Court. If Clinton wins, Obama must withdaw his nominee who is basically a Republican. She can nominate a real Democrat for the spot. Major concern is the Senate. Having McGinty is a weak candidate for Dems. She has never been in a major election before except for governor, when she finished fourth out of four.

  5. Makes sense to invest in PA. Swing state with a Senate seat in play. Hope Obama w/d’s his Supreme Court nominee so Hillary can appoint someone much younger and much more liberal/progressive.

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