PENNSYLVANIA 21 Electoral Votes
Obama/Allies  |  McCain/Allies   |   Nader   |   Candidate Travel  
Although Democrats enjoyed a registration advantage of more than 1.2 million and although a Republican presidential candidate had not won Pennsylvania since George W. Bush did in 1988, Pennsylvania became a must win state for McCain.  "Unless we win Pennsylvania, I don't think he is elected president," former Gov. Tom Ridge stated on Oct. 24, 2008.  The campaign clearly recognized the importance of the Keystone State; in the five months from June 1 to Nov. 4 Sen. McCain spent more days campaigning in Pennsylvania than in any other state.

The April 22 primary, won by Hillary Clinton by a 54.57% to 45.43% margin, may have given Republicans some grounds for optimism and showed the Obama campaign it had some work to do.  Sen. Obama's choice of Sen. Biden as his running mate brought solid Pennsylvania connections to the Democratic ticket.  Joe Biden lived in Scranton until he was 10, a fact with the campaign highlighted with an ad and his Sept. 1 visit to his boyhood home.  Jill Biden grew up in Willow Grove (suburban Philadelphia) and graduated from Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove; she also obtained a Master's degree from West Chester University.

After the Convention in Denver, the first stop for the Obamas and the Bidens was to kick off a bus tour with three stops in Pennsylvania. 
The Democratic campaign ultimately opened up 81 offices around the state.  While Republican offices got by with limited resources, the Obama offices had plentiful supplies of posters and campaign materials.

The Campaign Media Analysis Group reported that Pennsylvania "saw the most political TV ad spending" in the presidential race, a total of $60 million.

Independent Activity
On the progressive side, America Votes,
the coalition of progressive groups operating in 14 states, was led by Mary Shull operating out of Pittsburgh.  Coalition partners sought to move their specific issues, but at the same time shared electoral goals.  In Pennsylvania America Votes partners helped register more than 310,000 voters, and did over 500,000 door knocks, made about 700,000 phone calls and sent out over a million mail pieces (these numbers do not include separate union efforts).  There were some differences between 2004 and 2008.  In 2004 the focus was on identifying and turning out progressives/Democrats and an emphasis was placed on minority and young voters who tend to turn out in lower numbers.  In 2008 the candidate inspired these groups and they did not need to be worked additionally.  Instead many of the groups focused on working class white voters and union members who might be nervous about voting for an African American.  There was an emphasis on persuasion, on reaffirming that Obama was a candidate who held their values.  Among the most active groups were Planned Parenthood (Sari Stevens), Working America (Jenn Jannon), SEIU (Kati Sipp), ACORN (Kristi Holub), and Progressive Future (Dave Masur).

There was much less activity from conservative groups, with the National Rifle Association being perhaps most active. 

As in several other states, Republicans raised concerns about fradulent registration of voters by ACORN.  On Oct. 17, 2008 the state party announced a lawsuit against ACORN and the Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes seeking among other things "copies of any and all lists identifying the names of individuals for whom the ACORN Defendants submitted voter registration forms
."  After a hearing, a Commonwealth Court judge dismissed the suit on Oct. 30 (ACORN reaction), but the matter did not end there.  Months after the election, in May 2009, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. filed charges against seven ACORN workers for falsifying voter registration forms during the 2008 effort (PA GOP reaction).

A Republican operative observed, "His [Obama's] margins in Philadelphia and the four suburban counties in SE PA just overwhelmed anything else we could have hoped to accomplish.  We actually outperformed President Bush in several rural, SW PA counties, but Obama was so strong in the cities and in suburban Philadelphia, we really couldn't overcome the numbers he put up."

Five Months (June 1-Nov. 4, 2008)
Barack Obama - 7 visits (11 days)
Joe Biden - 8 visits (8 days)
Michelle Obama (solo) - 2 visits (2 days)
Jill Biden (solo) - 1 visit (1 day)
John McCain - 19 visits (26 days)
Sarah Palin - 11 visits (16 days)
Cindy McCain (solo) - 1 visit (3 days)
Todd Palin (solo) - 1 visit (1 day)

Newspaper Endorsements
Beaver County Times and Allegheny Times  (Oct. 26)
Bucks County Courier Times [Levittown]
Bucks County Intelligencer
The Citizens' Voice [Wilkes-Barre]
The Courier-Express and Tri-County Sunday [Dubois]  (Oct. 25) ("selection")
Delaware County Daily Times  (Oct. 26)
The Express-Times [Lehigh Valley-Easton]  (Oct. 12)
Erie Times-News  (Oct. 26)
Hazleton Standard-Speaker
Lebanon Daily News
Patriot-News [Harrisburg]  (Oct. 26)
*Philadelphia Inquirer  (Oct. 18)   334,150 (16)
*Philadelphia Daily News  (Oct. 24)   107,269 (96)
*Pittsburgh Post Gazette  (Oct. 12)   214,374 (42)

Pocono Record  (Oct. 26)
The Mercury [Pottstown]  (Oct. 26)
Scranton Times-Tribune  (Oct. 26)
The Daily Item [Sunbury]  (Oct. 19)
The Daily Review [Towanda]  (Oct. 29)
Times Leader [Wilkes-Barre]  (Oct. 26)
Uniontown Herald-Standard  (Oct. 26)
York Daily Record  (Oct. 26)
New Pittsburgh Courier  (Oct. 30)
Philadelphia Tribune  (Oct. 28)

Altoona Mirror  (Nov. 2)
Chambersburg Public Opinion
Lancaster New Era  (Oct. 20)
Lewistown Sentinel  (Nov. 1)  
Ogden 1; Oct. 15 Ogden 2
*Tribune-Review [Pittsburgh]  (Nov. 2)  150,011 (67)
Tribune-Democrat [Johnstown]
Warren Times-Observer
Williamsport Sun-Gazette  (Oct. 29) 
Ogden 1

The Morning Call [Allentown]

Another measure: According to Editor and Publisher four times as many daily newspapers endorsed Obama as McCain (24 to 6).
Copyright © 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action