Is John McCain's presidential campaign depending on voting booth racism—the so-called Bradley effect—in Pennsylvania? How else to explain the campaign's focus on a state that virtually every poll says should be safely in the Obama column?
Marc Ambinder wrote Saturday that McCain and Sarah Palin would flood Pennsylvania this week, focusing their closing effort on flipping the Keystone State from blue to red:
The scheduling reflects McCain's tough electoral math. With some—though by no means all—advisers all but conceding Colorado, McCain would be forced to win a blue state in order to recoup the electoral votes. New Hampshire wouldn't give him enough, and Pennsylvania, the McCain campaign believes, is the most brittle of the remaining states. Public and private polls give Obama a double digit lead in the state, but McCain advisers believe that Obama is underperforming in the suburbs and exurban counties around Pittsburgh. Tensions between the two campaigns in the state is acute.
Brittle how, exactly? RealClearPolitics averages out the recent polls as figuring that Obama has an 11.2 point lead (as of Sunday evening). Wisconsin is a half-point closer (10.6); Minnesota is virtually the same (11.3). Colorado itself is at 6.5 points; New Mexico is at 8.4; Nevada is at 3.3.
So, what's so special about Pennsylvania? Why focus on a recently Democratic state that all polls paint as entrenched in Obama's column rather than on closer states that voted Republican as recently as four years ago?
The critical difference is that Pennsylvania contains Appalachia, a region that Obama had widely noted problems with during the Democratic primaries. Some Pennsylvania Democrats are keenly aware of race issues, the New York Times reported today. If one takes the "Bradley effect" into account, the McCain campaign's Pennsylvania fixation becomes clearer.
Why is Pennsylvania 'brittle' despite all of the poll numbers? Because people are lying to the polls. They're ashamed to admit it, but they won't vote for the black guy.
We'll see what happens. I think the McCain camp is wasting its resources—more power to 'em. We'll find out in a week.
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