Why Pennsylvania Is And Has Been In Play: “Peak Oil”
Yes, peak oil. It’s the idea that we will one day “peak” in the amount of oil we can actually extract from the ground worldwide. We simply will not be able to get any more oil from the ground in a given day. Peak. No more blood from the stone. And when this happens, considering exploding demand, there will be an economic reckoning. Well, in an electoral sense for the Democrats, Philadelphia may be at “peak oil.” And considering what’s happening with the rest of the state, Mitt Romney’s in Bucks County for good reason.
Over at The Weekly Standard, Jay Cost has a superb analysis of why Pennsylvania is “in play” for Mitt Romney and the Republicans. And it’s not as sudden as you may think. Thanks to shifts (nearly) everywhere else in Pennsylvania beyond Philly, the state’s been trending Republican since 1980. But the key is the high-density, deep blue urban Philadelphia vote – the same phenomenon in which Chicago propels Illinois and New York City propels New York state into the deep blue.
Forgive the long excerpt, but this is just some fantastic analysis by Jay Cost in plain English. Pay attention here.
So why hasn’t the rest of the state tipped toward the GOP, especially given how hard George W. Bush worked to flip the Keystone State in 2000 and 2004?
The answer: The Democrats have done a monumental job of mobilizing the vote in Philadelphia County. In 1988 Pennsylvania minus Philly was 0.5 percent more Republican than the country writ large. Twenty years later, in 2008, it was roughly 2.5 percent more Republican. But Philadelphia County went from being 23 percent more Democratic in 1988 to 30 percent more Democratic in 2008.
Not only have Democrats moved Philadelphia leftward, they have done an expert job of keeping turnout growing cycle after cycle. This is extremely impressive because, as a share of the state’s population, Philadelphia County has been in a slow but steady decline (from upwards of 18 percent in the 1970s to about 12 percent today). What’s more, the county is now just 45 percent white, and non-whites are less likely to vote than whites.
I cannot overstate this: The prowess of the Democratic operation in Philadelphia over the last decade alone is simply incredible. Even though the population has been flat since 2000, Barack Obama managed to net 130,000 more votes out of the county than Al Gore!
The problem for Democrats is that they will bump up against a ceiling, sooner or later: The party already regularly wins 80 percent or more of the county’s vote, so there is not much room for growth there; additionally, the county’s population is flat, so the vote margin is not going to increase merely because of demographics.
That’s likely the context for Romney’s entrance into Pennsylvania. The GOP campaign’s strategy is probably three-fold: [Read the rest here.]
Absolutely. With flat population levels, “will bump up against a ceiling, sooner or later.” It’s simply a fact. They’ve squeezed just about all of the blood they can get from that stone at 80%. The question is whether that ceiling is this election cycle or not.
Something brought Romney in to Bucks County (north of Philly) in the past few days, and with Ohio and Florida tight, there’s no room for a head fake. In Dismissing the sincerity of Romney’s Pennsylvania push, Obama senior advisor David “Poofy” Plouffe throws out conjecture and hyperbole, like filler in a hot dog.
In stark contrast, Jay Cost offers up data, record and facts – all the while leaving open the possibility that this might not be the year the Democrat machine in Philly “bumps up against the ceiling.”
But it might be. It takes all the data Jay shares along with the right message and the right candidate. And it’s up to the voters in Pennsylvania to make that happen – in and out of Philadelphia.
We’ll know Tuesday night.
UPDATE: 30,000+ at rally for Romney in Bucks County, PA. Said one attendee: “…never seen a crowd like this. Dwarfs the Bush ’04 rally crowd at the same farm.”