Pennsylvania GOP aims to deliver state for Romney
LANCASTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — With 10 days to go before Pennsylvanians decide whether their 20 electoral votes will go to President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the enthusiasm level among Keystone State Republicans is clearly at an all-time high. The latest Rasmussen Poll showed Obama leading Romney by a slim 51 to 46 percent among likely voters—fueling hopes among GOP activists that they can deliver Pennsylvania for their presidential nominee for the first time in 24 years.
Modern history notwithstanding, a Romney win in Pennsylvania would also be something of an upset since Democrats have nearly 4.3 million registered voters in the state compared to its 3.3 million registered Republicans.
Here, in strongly Republican Lancaster County, the enthusiasm among party leaders and volunteers is especially high. Several who talked to Human Events told us that their goal was to turn out a record 161,000 votes for Romney. In a county with roughly 165,000 registered Republican voters, such a turnout for Romney would significantly exceed two previous highest turnouts to support a GOP candidate: 2004, when George W. Bush took Lancaster by 145,000 votes over John Kerry, and ’08, when then-State Attorney General, and now governor, Tom Corbett won Lancaster by nearly 148,000 as he was winning a landslide re-election statewide.
“Obama seems to have taken the state for granted — and certainly that is the case in this county,” Lancaster County GOP Chairman Scott Boyd told Human Events last week. “My Democratic counterpart here was asked recently in the paper whether the Democrats are working their phonebanks, and is quoted as saying: ‘We’re in a lull right now.’ Well, we’ve been working phonebanks since August.”
Attorney Tom Sponaugle, a longtime party volunteer who has worked GOP phonebanks, told us that “the enthusiasm for Romney is strong. It really took off after the first debate.” This view was echoed by Jill Gagliano, secretary of the county party, who said “our volunteers who are canvassing door-to-door (for Romney) have been getting very positive responses from voters since the first debate.”
Both Gagliano and Sponaugle insisted there was no shortage of eager volunteers to work the phonebanks or canvas households for Romney.
But the enthusiasm Human Events found for Romney in Republican Lancaster County may not translate into a statewide win for the GOP nominee, says the state’s leading political pollster.
“There are two problems here,” G. Terry Madonna, veteran political analyst and pollster at Franklin and Marshall University (Penn.) and himself a Lancaster resident, told us, “One is that most of the evidence you are getting of enthusiasm is anecdotal and the other is that Romney still hasn’t had a wave of voter support to put him within two or three points of Obama.” He pointed out that along with Rasmussen, the Philadelphia Inquirer poll and virtually every other survey of Pennsylvania voters show Romney five or six points behind Obama but no closer.
He pointed out that, as it is throughout the country, “Obama is in the situation he is now in Pennsylvania because he is not doing well among voters who backed him so strongly in ’08—particularly women, younger voters, and Hispanic voters.” (He said that Hispanic voters are not as much a factor in Pennsylvania as elsewhere, given that they are only 4 percent of the state’s population as opposed to 9 percent nationwide).
“Let’s see if a wave develops next week and then we’ll talk about Pennsylvania going Republican,” said Madonna.