Will ‘Obama’s Wars’ Deliver Pennsylvania for Romney?

Conservative columnist Colin Hanna is a Pennsylvania native and active in the Tea Party movement. He pens a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that each of four domestic policies antagonistic towards Pennsylvania voters (among others) could each shave 1-2 points off Obama’s poll lead on election day. If that happens, Pennsylvania flips to Romney and all but seals the Presidency for him:

Can Romney really win the state? Pennsylvania hasn’t gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. I don’t think the answer lies in the fine points that separate the polls. All show Romney slightly behind, but well within striking distance and closing ground. I think the answer lies in how carefully the Romney campaign studies our state, and whether it capitalizes on four areas of vulnerability for Obama in Pennsylvania in 2012 that were not present to anything near the same degree in 2008. They are four of what Republicans call “Obama’s Wars.”

The War on Religious Freedom.
That’s the way pro-life voters, especially Catholics, characterize the Obama administration’s mandate that all employers must provide coverage for sterilization and abortifacients, in addition to contraceptives. The relevance to Pennsylvania is that Roman Catholics compose up to 36 percent of voter turnout, one of the highest in the nation, and Catholic bishops are fully engaged in opposing this intrusion of the federal government into matters of faith. Even though the majority of Catholics are habitual Democrats, it’s likely the church’s opposition to Obama’s abortion and gay-marriage agendas will move some of them to the Romney-Ryan ticket. Vice President Biden’s snarky disdain for fellow Catholic Paul Ryan in Thursday’s debate may also move some Catholic swing votes to the Republican ticket.

The War on Coal. Obama’s famous line in the 2008 campaign that he would create policies that would “shut down coal plants” is remembered and, if anything, taken more seriously in 2012 than it was then. In Pennsylvania’s coal country, one of the most popular political items this year is an independently produced yard sign that reads “Stop the War on Coal – Fire Obama.” In September, the U.S. House of Representatives put a national spotlight on the issue with its passage of the “Stop the War on Coal Act.” Especially in the context of today’s prolonged economic woes, the Obama hostility to coal may be politically toxic in the areas of Pennsylvania in which coal is still king.

The War on Fracking. Despite Obama’s occasional positive comments about hydraulic fracturing offering the promise of abundant domestic energy, most of those in the industry are bracing themselves for the Interior Department’s long-awaited release of restrictive guidelines on the practice, now postponed until year’s end – conveniently after the election. The 70,000 or more Pennsylvanians now working as a direct result of hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale, and the 200,000 or so indirectly employed as a result of that industry, are much more enthusiastic about Romney’s energy policies than Obama’s.

The War on Guns. Many gun owners are convinced one political motivation of the Fast and Furious gun-running program was to shock Americans into thinking the trafficking of U.S. guns into Mexico was a serious problem jeopardizing public safety, and thus build public support for gun control. The president’s half-hearted support for guns used for hunting and target shooting betrays either an ignorance of or an outright hostility to the real purpose of the Second Amendment. That amendment is not about hunting; it’s about self-protection and the ability of the citizenry to resist an oppressive government. Very few political observers outside our state recognize how potent the pro-gun forces are in Pennsylvania. One simple statistic should prove the point: Pennsylvania leads the nation in National Rifle Association memberships.

Each of these “wars” could cost the president 1 to 2 points of his 2008 support in Pennsylvania. Will the Romney campaign devote the time and resources necessary to make these arguments? It will if it wants to win the election, because, if Romney wins Pennsylvania, there is almost no plausible way for Obama to win reelection.


  1. Shauna
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    PA is always fools gold… Every time it looks like it could go our way, but it trends Dem in the end.

    • No Tribe
      Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s what Dems used to say about Ohio too, before 2008. But I agree with the sentiment. I think the way to play PA is to just ignore it and hope, because if the Dems start to put resources into GOTV in the cities, that’s when they win.

      • Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Romney can will PA if hits the outer counties.

  2. Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    PA looks a lot like Nevada. More Counties went for McCain in 2008 and Bush in 2004, but the big metro areas went Dem. The GOP should change the law in PA to apportion EVs. It depends how bad 0bama is underperforming in the counties around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

  3. Alex
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree PA is fools gold. Romney needs to pay less attention to PA…. He will either win PA in a landslide election, or lose it in a close election. If the election is a landslide PA will just fall into place which means he doesn’t even need to work for it, but if the election is remotely close they will steal PA in Philly. In other words, a PA win or loss is out of Romney’s control.

    He needs to forget PA and spend much more time in a state like IOWA. In fact, I don’t know why he isn’t in IOWA a lot more! Everything about IOWA screams potential Republican victory:

    Republican registration advantage; demographics (approx 90% white, non-Hispanic); Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz has “cleaned” the voter rolls; cheap TV ads; Bush won in 2004 in a base election, etc.

    The numbers dictate if this election is close it will come down to IOWA: In a close election, Romney must win either (Ohio) or (Colorado, Nevada and Iowa)

    Moreover, they are voting in IOWA right now, so Romney going there helps…

    Focus on IOWA before its too late….

    • Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink | Reply


    • No Tribe
      Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Why he’s not in Iowa is because Iowa doesn’t matter as much as Ohio does. Romney’s gotta move Ohio, because without it, the inside straight is just a real long shot. Obama’s spending two days this week in Iowa/Ohio then Ohio/Iowa. My guess is that the internals are showing Those two both going to Romney, and that Romney is back in Iowa soon too.

      Adwise, Romney has actually outspent Obama two weeks in a row in Iowa. Obama had a considerable downdraft in all of the states with adbuys last week, compared to Romney. Adn RoF put in its biggest buy to date in Iowa, 1.4M last week.

      • Alex
        Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        Obviously Ohio is more important than Iowa… My point is IOWA is more important than PA or the other blue states…and more winnable

        Also, IOWA is not just part of the back-up plan “inside straight” (Colorado, Nevada and Iowa) but also can be the “1” in Rove’s 3-2-1 strategy… so its pivotal in both plans…

        There is a reason Obama’s number’s guys (including Nate Silver) have him in IOWA non-stop (3-day bus tour)…they’re not stupid….IOWA is crucial….

        They are voting in OHIO and IOWA now, so Romney should live in OHIO and IOWA the next two weeks…

        I also don’t like the R turnout I’m seeing in some IOWA counties…

      • No Tribe
        Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        I’m a bit hard-pressed to come up with what the Romney camp views as their first choice for the “1” in that 3-2-1 strategy. Colorado looks better than anything, in the polls right now. I would go with the following order:

        New Hampshire

        I think Colorado is the best play, because there are going to be a lot more Republicans there. Obama hasn’t showered federal money on it like he has Iowa. Gary Johnson spends a lot of resources there because Pot is on the ballot, as is the Green Jill Stein. It seemed to jump about as much as any state after the debate.

        Iowa, unfortunately, has been under-polled of late.

      • Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        No Tribe, I discussed that here:

        We see they are spending big money in the Battlegrounds of Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin. This is where they think they will get their “1” in the 3-2-1 strategy.

      • Alex
        Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        The only state on your list that even rivals IOWA in importance as the “1” is Colorado…but I worry about Colorado because of changing demographics and the type of Independents there…

        NH is important, but expensive and the 4 electoral votes are not enough for the back-up “inside straight” plan….it’s only good for the “1” as the 3-2-1…(high risk v. reward)

        Nevada is hard due to demographics…the University of Colorado guys don’t even see NV going Romney in their landslide analysis….

        Wisc., PA, and MI are possible but very hard beyond the margin of fraud….

        Finally, now that we see that its between Colorado and IOWA…I ask you which state currently has early voting taking place at rapid pace and which does not?

        Romney needs to go to IOWA…

  4. No Tribe
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wll, PPP has Romney leading by 1 in FL and by 2 in NC. I didn’t bother looking at the internals. If PPP has Romney ahead, then it’s a done deal for now.

    • Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Apply the 3 point rule to a PPP pole. Subtract 3 from the Dem and add three to GOP, that would get you in the ballpark.

    • William Jefferson Jr.
      Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Their NC sample changed. Earlier poll: D+14. Now: D+10. Slowly, they are coming back to earth.

  5. No Tribe
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good news. Obama is having to head back to New Hampshire on the 18th. Trying to plug all kinds of holes.

  6. AussieMarcus
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    Apparently PPP is rushing out a PA poll tomorrow.

    Now I expect it will be a load of D over sampled BS, but the fact they feel compelled to push that line shows the Dems are getting jumpy about PA.

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