Required Reading

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Salena Zito on Democratic disarray in PA:

Down-ballot bench — Last year’s midterms and a special state House election in the spring boosted the Republicans’ lower-chamber ranks to 120, a 36-seat advantage over Democrats. Republicans also expanded their majority to 30 members in the state’s 50-seat Senate.

Pennsylvania Democrats led the nation in trouncing Republicans in 2006’s historic wave election, but their power didn’t last long. By 2010, their majority in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation was wiped out; by 2012, Republicans held 13 seats to Democrats’ five.

Scandals — Two statewide-elected Democrats, darlings of the party just 18 months ago, have fallen from grace rather abruptly.

Former state Treasurer Rob McCord pleaded guilty to extortion earlier this year in federal court; his forced resignation came less than a year after his unsuccessful campaign for his party’s nomination for governor.

Then there is Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The first Democrat and first woman to be elected as the state’s top cop has run her office like a script for a really, really bad soap opera. The drama with the former political golden girl, who was carried into office by the Clinton machine, has escalated over two years, leading to a statewide grand jury recommending that she be charged with obstruction of justice, official oppression, perjury and contempt in connection with documents allegedly covered by grand jury secrecy rules being leaked to a Philadelphia newspaper.

The last time a GOP candidate won Pennsylvania was George HW Bush during his first bid in 1988. That’s the same year a GOP candidate last won California. In the five elections since, the GOP has won the White House only two times — and the party looks like an underdog yet again in 2016.

California might have to go Full Michigan (“Everyone knows you don’t go full Michigan!”) before the GOP becomes competitive there again — and even then, only if the Republicans build a tent big enough to include California’s social libertarians.

If the GOP goes Small Tent, they can kiss Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia goodbye, too. And not just in the next presidential election, but for the next few presidential cycles, covering most of the rest of our working lifetimes.

Do the math for just 2016 though and you’re looking at Hillary Clinton starting with 292 Electoral College votes. Forget Ohio and Pennsylvania — you don’t even need to hold the national election. The GOP candidate would have to win OH and PA and peel off IA, MI, MN, and WI just to nab a slim 271-267 victory.

Anyone want to place odds on the GOP sweeping the Upper Midwest and beating the Democrat machines in OH’s and PA’s urban centers?

This is the electoral math faced by the Republican hopefuls next year, and you’d better hope they’re thinking a lot more about that than they are about the Donald Trump Roving Clown Show.