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Morning Jay: Turning Pennsylvania Red, Moderate Republicanism, Generic Ballots, and More!

6:30 AM, Sep 17, 2010 • By JAY COST
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1. Pennsylvania poised to go for the GOP?  My goodness, are the polls for Democrats in Pennsylvania just terrible, or what?  It’s as if Pennsylvania and Ohio are in a pitched battle to see which one will swing the farthest away from the Democrats this November.

Morning Jay: Turning Pennsylvania Red, Moderate Republicanism, Generic Ballots, and More!

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows Republican nominee Tom Corbett up 10 points over Democrat Dan Onorato in the race for governor, with the latter pulling in just 39 percent.  In the last four months, there has only been one poll that showed Onorato within single digits.  On the Senate side, Democratic nominee Joe Sestak does a little bit better, but not much.  The RealClearPolitics average has him down 9 points to Republican Pat Toomey

Meanwhile, Charlie Cook lists five Democratic House seats in Pennsylvania as toss-ups, with another 3 potentially in play.  That makes 8 of the 12 Pennsylvania Democratic seats on the table. 

I think the story in Pennsylvania goes something like this.  Those of us in Western Pennsylvania – the “bitter clingers,” as I like to call us – never really hopped aboard the Obama bandwagon.  The region heavily backed Clinton in the primaries then actually moved a little bit toward McCain relative to Bush in the general. 

Obama more than made up for that in the eastern suburban counties of Philadelphia.  However, he sold himself as a moderate who would reduce health care premiums, deliver a net spending cut, and reduce taxes for everybody making less than $250,000/year.  In other words: Clintonomics.  The Philly suburbs did very well under Clinton, and they backed Obama heavily over McCain.  Obama actually won about 3/5ths of the vote among Pennsylvanians making more than $150,000/year, roughly the same haul he pulled in the Philadelphia suburbs.  But the economy has continued to sputter, the health care bill is terribly unpopular, spending is out of control, and taxes are going to have to go up.  The candidate who promised to be a Bill Clinton has governed more like a Walter Mondale, and that’s not what the Philly suburbs signed up for.

2. Conflicting generic ballot numbers. Yesterday, the Associated Press poll gave Republicans a 10-point lead in the generic ballot while the Politico/George Washington University/Battleground poll called it a tie.  What gives?

My guess is independents.  The AP doesn’t list the cross-tabs on generic ballot by party identification, but it does have the Democrats with a 4-point identification edge.  For it to get a 10-point Republican lead in the generic ballot strongly suggests an enormous GOP advantage among independents.

The GWU/Battleground Poll shows nothing like that.  It finds Republicans going heavily for Republicans, Democrats heavily for Democrats, and nearly half of independents as currently undecided.  

3. A narrow Republican party?  E.J. Dionne mourns the death of moderate Republicanism:

Castle's defeat at the hands of Christine O'Donnell, a perennial candidate who may be the least qualified Senate nominee anywhere in the country, does indeed mark the collapse of the Republican Party not only of Nelson Rockefeller and Tom Dewey, but also of Bob Dole and Howard Baker.

After two decades in which moderates fled a party increasingly dominated by its right wing, the Republican primary electorate has been reduced to nothing but its right wing.

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