Obama’s Pennsylvania Problem

Rick Wiley

The Obama campaign is counting on Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes in their difficult task of cobbling together the 270 needed to hold the White House.

But even Pennsylvania may be out of reach for President Obama come November.

In 2008, the president won the Keystone State with 54.7 percent of the vote to Senator McCain’s 44.3 percent. Today, however, 51 percent of Pennsylvanians say the president “does not deserve to be reelected,” according to a recent Muhlenberg poll. And among Independents in a late March Quinnipiac poll, that number stood at 53 percent.

Similarly, the Muhlenberg poll also found that the president has only a 43 percent approval rating in Pennsylvania, while half disapprove of his job performance. Fifty-three percent of Independents disapprove, according to Quinnipiac. That’s a long fall from his April 2009 overall approval rating of 61 percent.

The same poll found that 70 percent are “somewhat dissatisfied” (29 percent) or “very dissatisfied” (41 percent) with “the way things are going in the nation today.” And no one bears more responsibility for the direction of the country than President Obama.

Even with multiple candidates in the race for the Republican nomination, President Obama’s support in hypothetical matchups was weak. The Quinnipiac poll released at the end of March had him at 45 percent to Governor Romney’s 42 percent. Again, it’s a far cry from the 10.4 percent margin in 2008.

Republicans have an added advantage in Pennsylvania: our 2010 successes. Running on economic issues in the midterm elections, we picked up a U.S. Senate seat, the governorship, five U.S. House seats, and the state house.

These victories brought new GOP blood into Pennsylvania politics — volunteers, grassroots leaders–and energized voters for the Republican cause. We’ve built on that infrastructure in preparation for November. But what did Barack Obama have in Pennsylvania after the 2010 election? Just the remnants of numerous failed campaigns.

As the GOP primaries come to an end, the race in Pennsylvania will come into sharper focus. Voters will look with increased scrutiny on the Obama record and the Obama campaign. In little time, they will realize — if they have not already — the president is running a campaign devoid of substance.

Every day, he attempts to distract voters from his record with some contrived “issue,” more class warfare, or a speech filled with empty promises. But Pennsylvanians are worried about the rising prices of gas, groceries, and health care. They are concerned for their children’s future as the national debt skyrockets. President Obama will not offer solutions to these problems; he’s responsible for these problems.

Republicans, however, are unafraid to talk about the issues that matter. And we will offer solutions to the mess President Obama has made over the last three years.

That message, combined with Obama’s obvious weaknesses among the electorate, make Pennsylvania look more like a red state with each passing day. Soon, Chicago will again be asking Vice President Biden to renounce his long Delaware residency and rediscover those Scranton roots we heard so much about in 2008. After all, Team Obama realized a long time ago the president can’t relate to Pennsylvania voters after the “cling to guns or religion” incident of the last election.

Finally, remember this: if Obama is looking this weak in a state where a Republican has not won since 1988, he might as well throw in the towel in most of the other battleground states.