Good Omens Out of Pennsylvania

The common wisdom is that the longer that the Democratic primaries drag on, the worse it is for the Democratic Party. But the increased attention and energy involved in the Democratic primaries is having some decidedly positive short-term and long-term effects. For instance, take a look at these numbers out of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Democrats have added more than 65,000 voters to their rolls since last fall, a reflection of the high level of interest in the contested race for the party's presidential nomination and the state's April 22 primary.

The number of Democrats increased 1.7 percent -- from 3,883,378 in November to 3,948,775 as of March 4.

GOP enrollment grew by 0.1 percent, from 3,245,271 to 3,248,583, during the period.

This is really important stuff. In 2000, Al Gore carried Pennsylvania by 200,000 votes. In 2004, John Kerry's margin of victory in the state was fewer than 145,000 votes. So adding a new 60,000-plus new voters (65,000 new Democratic voters minus 3,300 new Republican voters) could clearly make a huge difference in the state. Naturally, registering voters is not everything. Turning out these voters is also key come November 2008.

Traditionally, picking up swing voters in swing regions of swing states is no doubt important. In the case of Pennsylvania, this amounts to focusing on the Philadelphia suburbs. However, if a party can change the traditional rule by registering tens of thousands more new voters than the other party -- and turning those new voters out -- it is in a much better position to win, with or without those key swing voters. And when a party is tending to perform better among swing voters and is registering a whole heck of a lot more new voters than the other party, well, then things start looking really good for the election to come. This isn't to say that Pennsylvania is now in the bag for the Democrats. Nevertheless, hope should not be lost at this juncture, either.

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SurveyUSA: Clinton Up 19 Points in Pennsylvania

Wow. Just wow.

Obama Plays 2nd Fiddle to Clinton in Pennsylvania Democratic Primary: In a Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania today, 03/11/08, six weeks to the vote, Hillary Clinton defeats Barack Obama 55% to 36%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WCAU-TV Philadelphia, KDKA-TV Pittsburgh, WHP-TV Harrisburg, and WNEP-TV Wilkes-Barre. Obama and Clinton are effectively tied in Southeast PA, which includes Philadelphia, but Clinton leads everywhere else. She is up 2:1 in SW PA, which includes Pittsburgh; is up 5:4 in South Central PA, which includes Harrisburg; is up 4:1 in West Central PA, which includes Johnstown; is up 5:3 in NE PA, which includes Wilkes-Barre; and is up 4:1 in NW PA, which includes Erie. Clinton leads 2:1 among whites; Obama leads 3:1 among blacks. Clinton leads by 5 among men, by 30 among women. She leads by 12 among those under age 50, leads by 26 among those age 50+. On the Economy, which is most important to Democratic voters in PA, Clinton leads by 24 points. On Health Care, next most important, Clinton leads by 32 points. Among voters focused on Iraq, the two are effectively tied.

This poll puts Hillary Clinton's lead over Barack Obama in Pennsylvania at nearly twice what it is in the trend estimate and the Real Clear Politics poll average -- though that difference seems to entirely come from a higher proportion of respondents backing Clinton relative to other polls rather than a lower proportion backing Obama. This at least suggests that SurveyUSA is pushing leaners more than other polls, and that Clinton does quite well among leaners at this point.

Yet regardless of whether this poll is on the high end of estimates of Clinton's support in Pennsylvania or if it truly gives a good read of the situation in the state, one thing is clear from this poll, as well as the rest of the polling from the Keystone State: Obama has a lot of ground to make up before he makes this a competitive race in the next nominating contest after today's primary in Mississippi.

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Not all Pa Youth are Breathless for Obama

Last night I went to see Hillary in Scranton, Pa. It was packed to the rafters. The line was about 1/2 mile long! That wasn't the most amazing thing.

The thing that surprised me was the amount of young people that were there. We were surrounded by college kids in line. It took over 2 hours of standing in the cold before we got in, so there was a lot of time to chat.

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