Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Can He Do It?

Republican leaders in the Philadelphia area have set the bar for gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann. And what a low bar it is.

They want Swann to get 35% of the vote in the Philadelphia region. If he fails to do that, they fear he will drag down the Republican ticket, including U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and the region's congressional and state legislative candidates.

As one of them told Brett Lieberman of the Harrisburg Patriot-News: "We've got to get it down in the southeast to no worse that 65-35. If we can get it that close, I don't think it hurts Rick" Santorum.

How realistic is it to think Swann can meet even that low bar?

Let's begin by making Swann's task a little bit easier by defining the southeast as the Philadelphia Media Market: Philadelphia, the four suburban counties, plus Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties. (Mike Fisher, Rendell's Republican opponent in 2002, did better in the last three counties than he did in the rest of the market.)

In 2002, the market was home to 41% of the state's 7.8 million voters. Voter turnout was 46%, which exactly matched the statewide turnout.

And Ed Rendell was the monster of the market.

Here is a summary of the results:

County....... Fisher.... %% ..Rendell... %%

Berks................43,790..... 43%..... 56,592.....55%
Bucks...............70,000..... 35%.... 127,850....63%
Chester............58,669..... 41%..... 81,996..... 57%
Delaware.........62,649..... 33%.... 123,117..... 65%
Lehigh.............34,738..... 41%..... 48,150..... 57%
Montgomery...81,835..... 31%.... 175,157..... 67%
Northampton..28,228..... 39%..... 42,554..... 59%
Philadelphia....59,223..... 15%.... 339,697..... 84%

Total .............439,132 .....30%....995,113......68%

Rendell Margin = 555,981

In addition, there was a Green Party candidate and a Libertarian Party candidate who got 24,658 votes in the region -- or 2% of the total vote.

The Republicans are hoping Swann can find a way to trim about 75,000-100,000 votes off Rendell's 2002 performance in the region.

Here is how Swann could do it:

1. Fired up by Rick Santorum's presence on the ticket, conservative Republican turnout will rise and Swann will win the majority of those votes.

2. In Philadelphia, voter turnout, which was 40% in 2002, will decline several points, taking votes away from Rendell.

3. As an African-American, Swann will increase his share of the black vote in the region. Fisher averaged 3% in predominantly black wards in Philadelphia. Swann will get 6%.

4. Most of the votes who went for independent candidates in 2002 will go for Swann.

If all four the the above happen, Swann will meet or exceed the 35% benchmark.

How likely is it that he can do it? You be the judge.


Anonymous phillydem said...

IIRC, when Rendell first ran for mayor a lot voters, including myself, voted for him without much enthusiasm, but four years later, voted FOR him with great enthusiasm. I really don't see Rendell's numbers changing all that much in the SE; he's probably maxed out. But in other areas of the state, his administration has done the kind of things that residents and voters like. Getting the state's financial house in order is one of them despite having to raise the PIT a very small bit. That's why his TV ads were so successful; once people realized what he's done, they LIKE it. IMHO, that will translate into the same enthusiatic voting for Ed's
second term that happened in his second mayoral election.

Bottom line: Ed's numbers will remain stable in the SE, but will improve in other areas of the state.

2:55 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

phillydem is basically right. Too many things have to break the right way for Swann to cut into Rendell's margin in the SE. And very little has broken right so far for the Swann campaign. There's very little reason to think that will change. Swann is a famous, handsome, honest man who fills out a suit well and has a good speaking voice. And those are just about all his assets, whereas Rendell has a positive track record to run on. Far from Santorum pulling Swann up (as in the Republican scenario), I think Rendell might pull Santorum down.

My rule of thumb is, never trust best-case scenarios. That's what the Republican hope for the SE is.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing to me to think that people would actually say it's Swann's fault if Santorum loses.

6:48 PM  
Blogger NE Suburbanite said...

Because Swann is what can be described as a "new blood Republican," I think he's going to have a very surprise positive showing come this November. Can't say the same for Santorum or Perzel, but then they're the old blood. As for Rendell, he won gubernatorially the first time around because he had been a great mayor of Philadelphia. But now he's looking real bad to everyone all over the state if you ask me, and I don't see how Philadelphia itself is any exception. For he endorsed the Fox Chase Cancer Center's proposal to expand onto Burholme Park, and that's going to hurt him. In Mayor Street's calls for state trooper assistance in helping to crack down on the rise of Philadelphia's homicide rate, Rendell said no can do, and do you think that helps Rendell's chances of reelection? And then there was the whole illegal pay increase thing with state legislators and judge, and do you see Rendell as being totally separate from that? Finally, the piece d' resistence, the whole gambling thing, which right now is smelling to high heaven. Oh, and tied to that, don't forget that Philadelphia was passed over for the promised property tax relief. So given all that, I would say Rendell loses the Philly vote this time around, and by a huuuuuuge margin. Just wait and see...

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Rendell's record is generally positive, his push for gambling legislation as a way to avoid real reform could come back to bite him in the arse come November.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Let's see how many things you got wrong.

First, Rendell has more than once said he wants the State Police to patrol the Phila interstates. IIRC, the state and Phila police opposed it. Just the other day after all the shooting deaths, Rendell again said he wanted the state police to take over patrolling the roads to free up city police for the street. This is Rendell's initiative, he's not going to say "no can do".

Second, Rendell didn't care if the legislature got a pay raise or not,
he just used it as a carrot to get his budget passed. It's not Rendell's fault the GOP-run state legislature expects to be bribed to do its job.

Third, while Philadelphians won't get property tax relief, we will get a reduction in the city wage tax which everyone is always crying about. Seniors and others on fixed incomes will still be eligible for all the other state programs available to help lower their property taxes.

Fourth, few people are as obsessed about FCCC as you seem to be. It
won't even be a blip on voters'radar screens in November.

Last, check the lastest polls on Rendell's approval. It's around 55% - about as high as it ever gets for
state pols.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Jdscott said...

I saw that comment by the GOP official, it didn't make much sense. If Santorum loses votes in the southeast, it really will not be because Swann fails to get to 35% in the Southeast.

When Santorum ran against Ron Klink in 2000, he ran far ahead of the rest of the Republican ticket in the collar counties, aka Montco, Delco and Bucks. For example, he won many more divisions in Lower Merion and Abington than Bush or Greenleaf did.

This, I think, can largely be attributed to the fact that both the local and national Dems gave up on Ron Klink in about September (if not before Labor Day). In fact, I believe, Santorum ran significantly ahead of Barbara Hafer (that race was probably a good indication of base voting strength of the parties - who even knows what the PA Treasurer does and an equal amount of people probably recognized CBK and Hafer).

If I am wrong, then maybe Santorum has a significant base in places like Lower Merion. But if I am right, this time around Santorum's votes in these townships will probably come back to more or less what the rest of the GOP statewide and federal ticket receives. I haven't looked, but I bet Santorum did about the same as Jon Fox did in 1994, in the then all Montco 13th CD, - in otherwords, Santorum ran about normal for the GOP that time. It just so happens the GOP had a stellar year in 1994.

If it is not that stellar this time around, well whose fault is that? Probably not Swann's.

5:22 PM  
Blogger marty503 said...

Speaking of things that are wrong, Philadelphia wasn't "passed over" for Property Tax Reform. It was never the intention of the legislation. Our property taxes are a big bargain compared to the surrounding counties and so wage tax relief was always the intention of the legislation. So suburbanites that work in Phila. will get a "twofer". Wage tax relief and property tax relief.

It's mind boggling that someone believes that the FCCC expansion will decide every election in our area.

Rendell will come out of Philadelphia with a large margain. Anyone who thinks otherwise is completely out of touch.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Santorum's electoral problem is in his home base, the SW, not the SE. Those are the voters who were the main reason he was elected twice. Poll after poll is showing he's lost them
and that's why his reelection prospects are dim.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous jdscott said...

I am sure Santorum is going to have problems in the SW this time. But that region did not provide Santorum with his margin of victory in 2000.

Klink only won 8 counties last time. 6 of which were counties in the SW, Mercer, Beaver, Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Fayette (the other two were Philadelphia and Lackawana) In otherwords, Santorum did not win in the traditionally Democratic counties in the SW in 2000, except for Cambria and Westmoreland (which have both been trending toward the GOP over the last decade - plus Gore also lost Westmoreland).

Santorum did win counties such as Armstrong and Butler, but those have been traditional GOP strongholds.

And in fact, Klink ran ahead of Gore in his home county, Beaver.

So, Santorum's margin of victory in 2000 did not come from the SW, since he probably received approximately the same amount of votes that Bush did in those counties, but Bush still lost the state.

Why then did Santorum win and Bush lose?

One reason is because Santorun won every SE county, with the obvious exception of Philadelphia.

At the same time, Gore won Montgomery and Delco, receiving around 10 points more than Klink did. And Gore beat Bush in Bucks and held down his margin in Chester and Berks. In contrast, Santorum ran away with it in Berks and Chester counties, receiving more than 60% of the votes.

Even in Philadelphia, Santorum outpaced Bush's vote totals in many wards, especially wards like 39, 56, 21 and 26. In fact, I believe, Santorum actually won the 55th ward, or came very close. Bush, on the other hand, won only around 30 divisions total in the city.

While winning the Philly burbs was not the only reason Santorum won the state 2000, while Bush lost it (Klink also lost other counties Gore won, such as Leigh, Northhampton, Luzerne and Erie), winning Montco, Delco and Bucks, while holding down Bush's numbers in Chester and Berks, was a significant factor.

What happened in the SE contributed more to Santorum's 2000 victory, than votes he got in the traditionally Democratic counties of the SW, counties where Klink ran around even with Gore and Santorum ran about even with Bush.

This would indicate to me that if Casey runs around the same in the SW as Klink did and then denies Santorum the Philly Suburban vote, he will win.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous jdscott said...

According to the AP, Santorum also lost the Southwest region to Wofford in 1994, 45 to 51. I don't know what counties the Southwest region included in that tabulation.

This would further indicate that it has been the Philly burbs that have put Santorum in office, and by denying Santorum these votes Casey can win in 2006.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Thanks for the stats. Obviously Santorum did not "win" the SW, but I will still argue that since that is his home base, he probably got more votes than a Republican from another area of the state would have gotten and probably outperformed Bush there as well. Western Pennsylvania voters are notorious for voting for the hometown candidate. This was mitigated in 2000 because Klink was also from that area which makes your point that the SE won for Santorum in 2000 true and valid. Of course that was the Dem strategy, hold Santorum to a draw in western PA and hope for a big Philadelphia turnout
to carry him to victory. And, it almost worked.

This time with an eastern PA candidate, Casey, Santorum would be expected to outperform the GOP ticket in the SW, but the cyber-tuition and residency issues
have hurt him badly with his base voters. That is why the SW is the key this time around.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous jdscott said...

If that is the case, then how come Harris Wofford, a liberal born in New York City and from the Philadelphia area, beat Santorum by almost 40,000 votes in 1994 in the Southwest?

5:14 PM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Because the SW has become more Republican in the intervening years. Many of the WW II generation FDR Dems have died or moved and been replaced by a more conservative residents.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous jdscott said...

Sure, that is true, Democrats tend to now receive something in the order of 20 points less than registration in places like Greene and Washington counties, of course registration there is +70% Democrat.

But the SW is hardily a GOP stronghold. To give you a more modern reference, in the 2004 election, Joe Hoeffel won only four counties. Three of them were in the SW, Allegheny, Beaver and Fayette (the fourth, obviously, Philadelphia).

The point is, the SW isn't Santorum's base, even though he was (or is, depending on your point of view) from there. In two senate elections Santorum has never won the SW. Although he may have done slightly better there than the overall Republican ticket in 2000 that does not mean it provided him with his margain of victory.

I believe Santorum's bigger problem is that he faces an uphill climb here in the SE. Santorum's two previous Senate victories were largely a product of winning the Philly burbs.

Of course, if it were possible for Santorum to get +60% in the SW, then maybe he could overcome not winning in the Philly burbs this time. But since his previous best mark in SW was 47%, that seems unlikely. If he wins that region at all, it will be by a bare majority.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Allegheny Co is the western equivilent of Philadelphia; it's Democratic turf.
Beaver Co is also strongly Democratic because of its older population demographic and its strong union bias, but it is changing. Dems aren't winning by the kind of margins they used to win by. I know, I'm from there.

I would venture to say that if Hoeffel's opponent had been a Republican from the east, Hoeffel would have done much better in western PA.

I can't dispute the facts of where the votes came from, but I will say that Santorum picked up more votes
in western PA because he was a "home town" candidate and while he didn't win the SW, those votes are certainly an important part of his base. The fact is, if Santorum hadn't garnered the votes he did in the SW, the SE burbs wouldn't have been able to provide his margin of victory. More briefly, my point is that up to this election Santorum has been very competitive in a nominally Democratic area and that has allowed him to win two terms.
This time his support has eroded and that's a big contributing factor to how poorly he's doing. That and that Santorum has been much more visible and vocal about issues than he has been in the past. Now SE voters can see what he really is unlike the last election where he ran a lot of ads here where he portrayed himself as a "moderate".

12:24 PM  
Anonymous drs said...

Rendell is so popular in SE PA (notably the liberal Main Line) because of his emphasis on property tax reform and elementary/secondary education, he will meet, if not exceed, gis first election margin in the region. There is nothing Swann can do to ameliorate that and it's simply a waste of time and resources for Swann to spend any time in SE PA. It's simply a fait accompli.

I think the more interesting thing is that no one seems to be commenting on whether the middle of the state, rabid red Pennsylvanians (conservative to the core) would vote for a non-white. It's time to face the facts about racism in Pennsylvania politics. There's no substance with Swann to help him. At least when Dwight Evans ran for light governor there was a substantive legislative record.

As to Santorum, I think he just sealed his fate with the stem cell vote. In voting against that bill, he basically wrote off any significant vote in the Rendell strong SE PA Main Line. It doesn't matter that Casey supports that, too -- the fact that Casey supports things that those Main Line soccer moms do more than Santorum basically seals Santorum's fate. Time for Rick to brush up his CV to run to the Club for Growth (home for defeated PA politicians).

10:30 PM  

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