Thursday, October 16, 2008

PA-11 - How Could I Have Been So Wrong?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

It happens. Back in July, I wrote that the PA-11 was a safe seat. It looked so good. Paul Kanjorski had been the Democrat representing that seat since January of 1985. He had a 3:1 financial lead against Lou Barletta. Kanjorski ran against Barletta 4 years ago, and won by 14 points. He won in 2006 with 72.5% of the vote. The District is D+5.

The polls don't look so good in the Pollster average, although if you link to the specific polls, you'll notice that the Democratic polls look different from the others. One thing that
is similar is the high number of undecideds.

So what's going on? First and foremost, the Lou Barletta of 2004 is not the Lou Barletta of 2008. Barletta is now the mayor of Hazelton, PA. The town that brought you the ordinance against illegal immigrants, later struck down by the courts. He was, for too long a time, the darling of Dobbs, who even broadcast from Hazelton. This transcript should give you the gist of things. It's a free-publicity arena, and Barletta got national attention. I've been to Hazelton, and believe me, having national press there for an extended period of time (Dobbs wasn't the only one) would have been a big deal.

So let's look at the PA - 11th. Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were old factory towns. The district is also home to the lower part of the Poconos. The area around Stroudsburg is filled with resorts and outlet shopping.
(I personally recommend Everybody's Cafe on Main Street.)

What people may not realize is that while much of the area had flat or decreasing population growth, Monroe County, in the eastern part of the district, has had almost 20%
population growth since 2000. And the majority of those people are emigres from New York and New Jersey, as Monroe County is a magnet for people with NYC jobs looking for affordable housing, and a bit of land.

So, the polls don't look good on their face, but there are a lot of unknowns. Are the new residents under-polled since perhaps they moved and kept their old cell phone numbers, (with those 212 and 201 areas codes) and are perhaps more Democratic than other residents?

Will the success of thee Obama campaign's GOTV efforts, which include the promotion of down-ballot candidates, help Kanjorski in ways we don't expect?

could this be one of the places that John Murtha was talking about yesterday? He said that his home base of western Pennsylvania is racist and that could reduce Barack Obama's victory margin in the state by 4 percentage points.

Now I'm no Spunky Palin, and I know that the 11th is in EASTERN Pennsylvania. But here is my thought: the people who support Lou Barletta do so because he wants to see illegal immigrants (read: Hispanics) gone from Hazelton. I'm not saying that's a racist view, but, um, I wouldn't be surprised if there were racists in Pennsylvania, and that chose undecideds to break for Barletta.