Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Analysis of Voters in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Illustrates Why Republicans Are Struggling

Condescension and Vituperation Just Don’t Sell Well

As the election season wears on one of the trends is that as voters pay more attention to the races, the parties and the candidates many Republicans, including the Presidential/Vice Presidential nominees don’t fare all that well.  This is surprising since with the huge monetary advantage from outside spending they should have been able to shape voter perception that they are really nice people. 

In Connecticut this is what Senate candidate Linda McMahon has done with tens of millions in advertising, and for that reason alone she has made herself competitive.  But the attitude of Republicans is that of bitterness, a failure to understand what is happening and an anger at those who do not share their views.  An illustration of this is in Pennsylvania where Mr. Romney has apparently conceded the state to Mr. Obama.

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns made significant investments in advertising in Pennsylvania. The pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, and two conservative PACs, Crossroads GPS and Americans For Prosperity, have together spent a total of $9.7 million; the Obama campaign and its allied super PAC, Priorities USA Action, have spent $8 million.

By the end of August, however, ad buying stopped. The Romney campaign effectively conceded the state.

Why can’t Republicans get traction here?  Thomas Edsall, an astute political reporter for the New York Times went to the Lehigh Valley and found this reaction from rock ribbed Republicans.

When I met Kevin Balzer, a Romney supporter who is a Mack Truck supervisor, I asked him why his state looks likely to back Obama. “People are stupid,” he said.

City and state officials, he went on,

“eliminated civics from our curriculum. The students don’t know about civics, they don’t know about our history, our government, our constitution. Politicians say they are going to give people things for free to get elected. That is what’s happening in Pennsylvania, especially in Lehigh Valley.”

Balzer added that “the white guys got pushed out” of Allentown and neighboring communities, in part by a wave of Hispanic immigration. Balzer, who joined the exodus to areas outside of Allentown, said he and others want to “get away from the whole erosion of the country.”

And there is also this.

William L. Heydt, a Republican, held the mayor’s office in Allentown from 1990 to 2002, when he retired. He decided to run again in 2005. He only got 41 percent of the vote. Allentown voters, he told me, came to the polls “by the busload, pulled the D lever, and had no idea who they were voting for.” Many, Heydt said, “were Hispanic, a lot African American.”

This part of Pennsylvania is changing,

Julio Guridy, a native of the Dominican Republic who is now chairman of the Allentown City Council, sees a growing, vibrant and, not least of all, Democratic city.

“We have seen an influx from New York and New Jersey, particularly after 9/11. This is a very good place to live,” Guridy told me. “America is a wonderful place.” He is one of two Latinos on the six-member city council, all of whom are Democrats, as is the mayor, Ed Pawlowski, the man who beat Heydt in 2005.

The hatred and prejudice expressed in the above comments will not make for happy voters, and no, voters are not stupid.  They are smart enough to vote their interests and when they see a political party that condescends to them, they are not going to support that party.

Yes, pretty simple logic, but apparently not simple enough for the Republican party to understand, at least in Pennsylvania.  If Mr. Romney loses this election it will be because he didn’t understand this part of political science.

The reason Romney has a strong, 13-point edge among all white working class voters, according to the P.R.R.I. findings, is that in the South his margin is huge. In the rest of the country, the white working class is much more closely divided.

Among southern working class whites, Romney leads by 40 points, 62-22, an extraordinary gap.

The story in the rest of the country is different. In the West, where Colorado and Nevada are battleground states, Romney leads by a modest 5 points, 46-41. In the Northeast, which Obama is expected to sweep, except perhaps for New Hampshire, Romney holds a 4-point advantage among working class whites, 42-38. In the Midwest, where Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin are in play, Obama actually leads among working class whites by 8 points (44-36).

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