Saturday, March 8, 2008

Pennsylvania: Political Oddities & Quirks

Above: Big sister, little sister. As you may have noticed, I love the Amish people. There's a huge Amish community in Lancaster County and significant ones north and northwest of Pittsburgh.

Starting tomorrow, I'll be writing here about some fascinating facts about Pennsylvania, matters that will influence the Pennsylvania Primary and the General Election. For example, in 1960 Pennsylvania has approximately the same population as California. Now, the Sunshine State has about three times as many people as the Keystone State.

Also, the national networks love to "call" Pennsylvania early in the evening, but they're flirting with danger. Much of the early vote in this state comes from Philadelphia and, to a lesser degree, from Pittsburgh, both Democrat bastions.

In 2004, the networks gave Pennsylvania to John Kerry about 20 minutes after the polls closed (at 8 p.m.) The percentages at the time were 61% for Kerry, about 39% for Bush. Big win for Kerry, right? Not exactly.

Five hours later (about 1 a.m.), it looked as if President Bush might have a chance of carrying the state. The PA percentages about 1:30 a.m. were roughly 51% for Kerry, 49% for Bush. By then, the networks were focused on Ohio, saying it was "still too close to call." If that was true of Ohio, why did they call Pennsylvania so early?

In fact, the victory margins in the two states were similar. Kerry won Pennsylvania by about 144,000 votes, and Bush won Kerry's vote margin in Pennsylvania was less than Bush's in Ohio. In the final total, Kerry won Pennsylvania by about 144,000 votes out of more than 5.7 million cast. In Ohio, Bush won by nearly 119,000 votes, again with about 5.7 million cast.

A lot more about Pennsylvania and its politics will follow in the coming week . . .

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