While many polls and the members of the media reading them have led us to believe that this Tuesday’s presidential election is going to be one of the closest in history, what we are witnessing is probably the most misleading narrative since the Chicago Daily Tribune got caught touting the headline “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” even though the results were actually the other way around.
Back in 1948, the tables were reversed though. As that election approached, Newsweek polled 50 key political journalists on which candidate they thought would win. That October 11th issue of Newsweek reported that all 50 of those journalist covering the election believed Dewey would win.
On Election Day, the polls indicated that President Truman had cut in to Dewey’s lead significantly. Still though, most all media sources continued to believe that second time Republican presidential nominee, New York Governor Thomas Dewey, would win by a landslide. Then came election night.
As results poured in, despite the fact that Truman was ahead in the popular vote, broadcast journalists were still convinced that Governor Dewey was going to win the presidency in the Electoral College. It wasn’t until 4:00 am the next morning that Truman’s victory became an undeniable conclusion. Then at 10:14 am, Governor Dewey conceded the election to President Truman.
64 years later a similar surprise is in the works and no place is that more evident than in Pennsylvania.
While White House 2012 continues to project that Barack Obama will ultimately win the Keystone State, the race in Pennsylvania is proving to be increasingly close. A few weeks ago, Pennsylvania was not in play. As was the case with much of of the rest of the Northeast, Pennsylvania was so solidly behind the President that neither President Obama that neither he nor Mitt Romney spent much time or money on campaigning in the state. But ever since the first presidential debate, an undeniable tide started sweeping the nation. For Barack Obama it is a receding tide that is sweeping his reelection hopes out to sea. For Mitt Romney it’s a rising tide that is lifting his electoral boat high on the seas as a gentle breeze fills his sails and propels him to victory. That tide is so high that now only hours before Election Day, the once dark blue state of Pennsylvania is purple with increasing flashes of red showing through.
Still, the Obama campaign would like us to believe that this is not true. Instead they would rather we ignore the fact that a little more than a month ago President Obama held practically a ten pont percent lead over Mitt Romney but now, two days before the election, that lead is anywhere from 4 percentage points to non-existent as some polls have the race a tie in Pennsylvania. To help convince us that this disappearance of the President’s lead is not real, Obama surrogates are calling Romney’s recent decision to campaign in Pennsylvania an act of desperation. Chief Obama strategist David Axelrod claims that it is a last ditch attempt by Romney to find electoral votes in Pennsylvania because he get find them in places like Ohio, Florida, or Virginia.
Other Obama surrogates claim that Romney’s campaign activity in Pennsylvania is all a head fake designed to force President Obama to waste time and money in a state in Pennsylvania instead of a state like Iowa or Wisconsin or Colorado.
Either way the Obama-Biden ticket wants to paint Romney’s new focus on Pennsylvania, they’re wrong. If they were right, Mitt Romney would not be investing money in a new ad buy there and he would not be spending valuable and increasingly rare time campaigning there. And if the Obama-Biden ticket was so sure that they were winning Pennsylvania, they would not be increasing their own ad buys in the state and they would not be have the campaign’s chief surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, making 4 campaign stops in Pennsylvania on the day before the election.
The truth is that Mitt Romney is not trying to get Pennsylvania’s electoral votes because he needs to make up for his inability to get them from other states. He is campaigning in Pennsylvania because the polls show that his electoral map has expanded and that the opportunity to win more states have increased. At the same time, just the opposite has occurred for President Obama. In fact, President Obama’s shrinking electoral map has made Pennsylvania one of three state’s that he cannot win reelection without.
The other two must wins for the Obama-Biden ticket are Ohio and Michigan.
As shown in the chart below, White House 2012’s election projection finds that based upon the likely results in other states, President Obama has only 3 paths to victory and each of those 3 combinations requires winning Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.
Unfortunately for the President, as Election Day approaches not only is he finding himself having to fight for Pennsylvania, he continues to see himself in a tight race in Ohio and in Michigan, the third state that is a must win for him, the Obama-Biden ticket is also seeing the race tighten up.
So despite claims to contrary by Team Obama, the pivot to Pennsylvania in the closing days of the election reflects a real shift in the election. Mitt Romney is still unlikely to win the state, but the mere fact that President Obama is threatened there means that he is in trouble. It also means that just as was the case in 1948, the potential for some big surprises in the form of an electoral landslide for Romney that few others aside from Dick Morris, Michael Barone, and White House 2012, have predicted.
Filed under: Electoral College Maps, Mitt Romney Tagged: | Can Romney win Pennsylvania, Dewey Defeats Truman, Dewey versus Truman, Is Pennsylvania in Play, Mitt Romney for President, presidential race tightens in Pennsylvania, Romney projetced to win in a landlside, The 1948 presidential election, the importance of Pennsylvania in the presidential election, the Pennsylvania pivot, Truman versus Dewey, White House 2012, Will Obama lose Pennsylvania, wordpress political blogs