Dick Morris: Pennsylvania Is the 'New Ohio'
On a conference call this afternoon, Dick Morris predicted a Mitt Romney victory but voiced concern about recent polls showing a slight move in Barack Obama's favor today. The president, Morris noted, is benefiting from a post-hurricane bounce as Americans rally around the face of the government. Michael Reagan, who was also on the call, noted that the president was able to "look presidential" and get free facetime on the air during Hurricane Sandy relief. Reagan added that it's vital that Republicans stay engaged and point out Obama's four-year history of failure to blunt this late surge.
Morris said that Obama's southern firewall has collapsed, so his campaign is making a stand at its "northern firewall" states, Iowa and New Hampshire. Romney, said Morris, has flanked Obama by attacking states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Morris said that Romney should win Ohio but winning Pennsylvania would be even better, and that Romney is probably in better shape in the latter state. Pennsylvania and Ohio have 20 and 18 electoral votes, respectively. "The Romney forces are outgunning the Obama forces in Pennsylvania," said Morris.
Hurricane Sandy impacts eastern Pennsylvania, which Morris said will depress the Democratic vote in that part of the state, adding to the possibility of Romney capturing it. Reagan said that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's endorsement of Obama, while carrying on with the New York Marathon despite the widespread suffering in his city, could have a "disastrous" effect on the president's re-election. Reagan said that people are outraged by the decision, and Bloomberg tying himself to Obama will drag down the president's image.
Returning to Pennsylvania, Morris noted that after 2010 the state has changed and is "ripe" for a Republican win at the presidential level. "Pennsylvania is the soft underbelly" of the Democratic coalition, he said. He also said it's the "new Ohio." "In the past, coal was not a political term, it was just an industry, but this administration has made it public enemy number one," said Morris, adding to Obama's problems there. He noted that coal states like West Virginia and Kentucky used to be Democratic states but thanks to the war on coal, they have moved solidly into the Republican column. Pennsylvania could follow them this year and turn red, he said.
On early voting, Morris noted Romney's seven-point lead nationally according to both Gallup and Pew. Pennsylvania does not have early voting, but where there is early voting, Romney is doing well and there has been a "tremendous shift" in the number of early voters in both parties. "Early voting is showing a strong Romney push," said Morris.