According to political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, President Barack Obama has a Pennsylvania problem, and this may be reflective of his broader struggles among working class, blue collar voters who he once derided as those who bitterly cling to their guns and religion.
In his analysis, Rothenberg notes, “no single state reflects the party’s challenges more than Pennsylvania.”
He writes, “Pennsylvania has gone Democratic in the past five presidential contests, and the apparent movement of the Philadelphia suburbs away from the GOP during the past two decades suggests a fundamental political shift in the state,” but the “movement of working-class voters toward the GOP has helped offset the partisan trend in the Philadelphia suburbs, keeping Pennsylvania an interesting and competitive state.”
In the 2006 and 2008 elections, Democrats in Congress picked up 5 seats in Pennsylvania, as Rothenberg notes. Democrats did so, especially in 2006, by running on a more centrist message.
This year, Democrats can’t even find good candidates in the Keystone State who are willing to challenge Republicans who may be vulnerable on paper. And one Democrat in Pennsylvania, Rep. Mark Critz, who is fighting for reelection, will not appear with Obama at the Democratic National Convention.
So, while Democrats remain hopeful about retaking the House, Pennsylvania is starting to look like a black hole for them this year. And if the party can’t come out of Pennsylvania gaining even a single additional House seat this cycle, there will be extra pressure in states such as Illinois, California and Florida, where redistricting did benefit Democrats, to pick up seats.
After the Obamacare decision, the President may have even more trouble in Pennsylvania, and the distaste for him on the down-ticket races may directly impact how Obama fares in the state. If Obama loses the Keystone State, there is no way he would be able to win reelection.
In the coming weeks and months, keep an eye whether Sen. Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat running for reelection, distances himself from Obama. Casey’s actions may well be a leading indicator of how Obama will fare in the state.