Washington County, Pennsylvania voted Democrat in Presidential races for nearly four decades until the 2008 election. Although Barack Obama carried the state by 11%, John McCain won Washington County county by 4%. This is a county that should be ripe for Obama with unemployment far below the national average at 6.7% while ranking third in the nation in job growth. But 40% of the job growth is due to the drilling in the Marcellus Shale and Washington County was built on this one issue: coal. Mining the Marcellus Shale has made this county a mini-Boom Town and energy policy is on the tips of everyone’s tongue in this area. Washington County sits in the very heart of this shale and the Obama Administrations policy towards coal has been antagonistic rather than accommodating due to environmental concerns. the original shift to Republican of this county was over energy policies Obama articulated towards coal and natural gas drilling during the last election. This antagonism over the last three years has made the Obama Administration increasingly unpopular among many residents although concerns over the environmental impact of such drilling still holds sway with many voters. Voters in this region are considered “rural voters” who Obama lost by 8% nationwide to John McCain in 2008. Today polling shows President Obama losing this segment by 20%. Meaningful out-performance of that nature can turn the 2008 11% win into a Battleground very quickly.
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