It’s become an article of faith in national politics that Pennsylvania is pretty much out of reach for Republican presidential candidates.
But Amy Walter, the top-flight analyst who is national editor of The Cook Political Report, argues in a new piece that Pennsylvania holds the biggest promise for the GOP in 2016. Not only is it gettable, but it has a big enough cache of electoral votes to offset losses elsewhere.
In the wake of 2012, most post-game attention has focused on what Republicans can do to win back Colorado and Nevada, which went for President Obama in the past two elections – considering their rapid growth, suburbanization and increasingly Hispanic electorates.
Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes, would be a better bet, Walter argues. Nevada, with six electoral votes, has become steadily more Democratic based on a statistical measure of the each states partisan performance compared to the national as a whole, the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI).
Nevada’s D+2.07 PVI makes it more Democratic than Iowa (D+1.08), Minnesota (D+1.76), New Hampshire (D+1.02) and Pennsylvania (D+1.15). Pennsylvania is the largest of these.
“The Romney campaign spent $8.9M on broadcast TV in Nevada during the general election to get 46 percent of the vote,” Walter writes. “In Pennsylvania, the Romney campaign spent a paltry $2.4M and got 47 percent. In other words, Team Romney spent four times as much in Nevada as they did in Pennsylvania, to get essentially the same percentage of the vote. Now, imagine that the money invested in Pennsylvania came earlier--and more intensely.” (Emphasis added)
Trust me, Pennsylvania Republicans tried hard to convince Boston to take another look at the state, but Romney’s team was working off of a different strategic map that didn’t involve dumping money into Philadelphia’s media market, the fourth most expensive in the nation.
A GOP presidential candidate has not carried Pennsylvania since 1988, when George H.W. Bush managed to get 50 percent of the vote in the Philadelphia media market on the way to winning the state with 52 percent. (The market represents about 40 to 42 percent of the vote in a presidential year.)