Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XX: For Whom The Bellwether Tolls

California gets a lot of coverage as a "pathbreaking," trendsetting" or "bellwether" state, but it was plain old Pennsylvania that in 1991 elected Harris Wofford to the Senate over his seasoned Republican opponent, former Pennsylvania governor and former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh, in a special election entirely dominated by one issue: affordable health care, thereby providing Bill Clinton with much of his edge in the 1992 presidential election. Indeed, in recent elections Pennsylvania has been much more of a "swing" or "battlefield" state than California has been. George W. Bush lost the state to Al Gore by only a handfull of votes in 2000.

Pennsylvania is a state that John Kerry almost certainly must carry this year. That should be a cinch for the Democrat: Pennsylvania is a Northeast state, close to John Kerry's Massachusetts, it has lost plenty of jobs in various waves of "outsourcing," and that same historical sensitivity to rising health care costs hasn't gone away.

So it really does matter that the Texan George W. Bush now leads Senator Kerry by 6% (46% to 40%) in the most recent Keystone Poll. Even worse for the Democrat: he is rapidly sinking (shedding 7% in a month) in what should be the easy state of Pennsylvania at exactly the time the President is supposedly having many "dreadful" days.

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