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In the final days before the Presidential election, the Romney campaign is making a major push in the state of Pennsylvania. They have made a $3 million ad buy in the state, pro-Romney super pacs are spending another $8 million and surrogates, including Marco Rubio, have been sent to campaign in the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Paul Ryan will be in Harrisburg Saturday. Romney himself will make a campaign stop in a suburb of Philadelphia on Sunday.
Since Reagan carried the state, Pennsylvania has been the Holy Grail for Republican Presidential candidates. But, Romney has a realistic chance of winning the state, while John McCain and George Bush never did. Unlike, Ohio and the other swing states, the Democrats have not poisoned the well with millions of dollars in anti-Romney ads. Instead, both campaigns have been relatively absent, especially considering Pennsylvania’s importance. Obama’s War on Coal should drive voters in western Pennsylvania to the polls and turn out could tip the balance. Key demographic groups that Romney must make inroads with are the “Reagan Democrats”, particular the steel workers in Pittsburgh, and suburban women in the Philly suburbs. The aftermath of the hurricane may depress Obama’s turnout in Philadelphia, where Democrats have always counted on a strong showing to overwhelm Republican strongholds in the western part of the state. The Obama campaign’s vaunted GOTV effort, which they are counting on in other swing states, has been less than active in Pennsylvania, which they long ago felt was in their column. And voters here have every reason to be even more “bitter and cling to their guns and religion” than they were in 2008.
For Romney, Pennsylvania with its 20 electoral votes, represents an insurance policy in the event that he loses Ohio. Romney doesn’t have to win here, but if he does, then the election could be wrapped up before we leave the East Coast. Obama, on the other hand, has virtually no path to victory if he loses Pennsylvania. He would have to run the table in Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Romney has a reasonable chance to win those states, except for, perhaps, Nevada.
Which brings us to Axelrod’s mustache. David Axelrod has promised to cut off his mustache if Romney wins Pennsylvania (or Michigan or Minnesota). I’m thinking he would look a lot nicer, if he were clean shaven.