Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Can He Do It? II

For Bob Casey to defeat Rick Santorum for U.S. Senate in November, he doesn't have to make like JFK. He doesn't have to make like Bill Clinton. He doesn't have to make like Little Richard, though it would be fun to see the Casey rendition of Good Golly Miss Molly.

He has to make like Al Gore.

Yes, it's true. Casey has to make like the stolid, ex-VP, currently making the rounds of the movie-house circuit to plug his documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

In 2000, Gore won Pennsylvania by a 204,840 margin over George Bush. It was 51% Gore versus 46% Bush.

In the same year, Santorum won re-election over Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Ron Klink, by
327,054 votes. It was 52% Santorum vs. 46% Klink.

I think you can forget the vote totals -- 2000 was a superheated year that brought voters to the polls in record numbers. Statewide turnout was 64%

This year's race will be more like the gubernatorial election of 2002, when 3.6 million voters showed up. Turnout was 46%.

Unlike Lynn Swann, Casey doesn't have any mountains to climb.

His needs are more modest. He has to marginally improve over Klink's performance in each of the state's media markets.

Here is a more detailed chart comparing Presidential and U.S. Senate totals in 2000.

Can Casey do it?

It comes down to how you answer a series of questions:

1. Can Casey improve on Klink's margin in Santorum's home base? Klink won the Pittsburgh market, though only by 40,000 votes. It was Klink 51% vs. Santorum 47%. As of the latest opinion polls, Santorum is trailing in the double digits in the Pittsburgh area. Frankly, I think Santorum has to win this market in November to make up for erosion in the east.

2. Can Casey improve on Klink's performance in the Republican "T." To take the lower end, Santorum murderlized the Democrat in the Harrisburg market. It was Santorum 65% vs. Klink's 32%. Gore did better here, to the tune of 4% points. Casey needs to match or slightly exceed Gore's 36% showing.

3. Can Casey do better in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton media market. It was Santorum 57% vs. Klink 41% in 2000. Gore did better than Klink by 7% points. Obviously, Casey can do better here. This is his home base. He needs to win it.

4. Can Casey do better that Klink in the Philadelphia media market? He must in order to win. Klink beat Santorum 51% to 47% in the market. He emerged from the 8-county market with a margin of close to 70,000 votes, but that's only because he racked up the votes in Philly and emerged from the city with a margin of 277,000 votes. He lost in every other county in the market.

In the same market in 2000, Gore got 59% of the vote. He got 80% of the vote in Philly, but he also narrowly won Berks, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery Counties. Casey needs a Gore-like victory in this market. In this, he will be helped by Gov. Rendell's presence on the ticket.

The long and short of it, if Casey can replicate Gore's 2000 showing in the major markets, he will be a 5-point winner in November.


Blogger Adam said...

All other things being equal, there's no way that Santorum gets 47% of the Philadelphia area vote again.

In the last polls, Casey was winning every geographic sector except the T, where he was merely tied.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Suburb Repub Woman said...

In spite of Casey's stand on abortion and stem-cell research, on these he is no worse than Santorum and in some ways on abortion a tiny bit better. Casey will win handily in the 5 county area because Santorum has such a horrible record. No matter how much money the RNC has to spend and no matter how much they terrify the center state that gays are going to marry and come to their homes and ruin their marriage, the anger in Pittsburgh about Santorum and the rejection in the Phila suburbs will carry the state handily for Casey.

12:01 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

These are both pretty good assessments. Santorum has a lot of money for ads trying to portray him as somehow "mainstream," but his record is still there, and his very much non-mainstream book is still on bookstore shelves. Casey by a good margin, I think.

2:23 PM  

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