David Burstein '11 and Jon Delano '71 are following this year's presidential election and will have updates throughout the campaign.
The Road to the White House: Democrats in PA
David D. Burstein: So where to start?
Jon Delano: Pennsylvania -- the new home of our presidential candidates.
DB: I think we continue to see that this is going to be a long election and I don't think Pennsylvania is going to be decisive. I think it will be another important stop, but this will go on long after.
JD: No state will be decisive. Neither PA nor any of the remaining 10. Unless Obama defeats Clinton in all the remaining states, I think she has an argument to go on. This is especially true if she wins PA.
DB: The difficulty is that she can't get the required number of delegates unless FLA and Michigan are counted. Neither can Obama, but he can come closer. Neither of them really has a mandate to be the nominee.
JD: And that's why this goes all the way to the convention.
DB: I doubt that will happen. It’s the media's dream but they will figure it out before then.
JD: Some have suggested a deadlocked convention will yield a third candidate.
DB: I think that is a great dream of a lot of pundits but unlikely to happen. Say it goes to Puerto Rico, which is currently scheduled for June. Talking about moving it up to may but at least by the end of June they will work this out.
JD: Well the media (moi included) would love to see a battle royale in Denver. I will be there, taking it all in and reporting back to PA.
DB: Clinton and Obama don't want to be forever blamed for losing the election for democrats.
JD: Well, I think you may be optimistic about a work-out schedule, but I won't rule it out.
DB: I think it’s much more likely that they work it out then it goes to a convention. Democrats don’t want that, and in three months between last primary and convention people start to think a little more when they are off the campaign trail. That time will be crucial to one of them coming to their senses and realize they have to come together for party unity.
JD: But who will "come to their senses" if they think they can win it all?
DB: Their supporters and superdelegates will pressure them. After 1 month of being off the campaign trail they will have different mindsets, and not feel as confident about "winning it all."
JD: Well I'm just not so sure.
DB: When you're not in day to day campaign mode it's a far different picture. If it goes to a convention, democrats will lose and everyone in the party knows that.
JD: I saw Obama yesterday and did a one-on-one interview with him, and I don't see him getting out for Hillary. And I think we can say the same of Clinton.
DB: Right now neither of them seem that way but June is a long way away and June-August is even longer. Of course they don't seem that way now, they literally can’t, especially when they are doing an interview with you.
JD: My own view is that as long as either one has hope of winning, something we may not know early on, this race continues. That could be well into the summer. The big question is whether Michigan and Florida get to play in this game.
DB: Yeah, that is how Hillary could win decisively, but I think they are a long way to being resolved.
JD: I am conflicted on the issue. One side says play by the rules. The other side of me says give everyone a vote.
DB: There are good arguments on both sides and the challenge is it’s impossible for these two states not to be tainted by particular candidates with Crist and Granholm.
JD: Governor Rendell's offer to raise money for this was somewhat amusing.
DB: Oh I couldn't believe that. The idea that we're going to have privately funded primaries fundraised for by top candidate supporters. Give me a break.
JD: Well, it's designed to show both states that Hillary wants a revote.
DB: So it can't really be resolved neutrally, since each candidate's desires and links to the states are already so clear. That's my main issue.
JD: Frankly, this is really up to the states. If they want a revote, they should pay for it. By the way, did you hear Chelsea Clinton at Penn?
DB: I think Obama has a chance in PA. No, I wasn't in town, but I'm looking forward to following the campaigns around over the month.
JD: She was at Point Park University here in Pittsburgh early this evening. I was there, about ten feet from here, with KDKA, and she was mighty impressive.
DB: Did you get a question in...hahaha Not happening. Apparently local reporters are dressing up as students to try and ask questions.
JD: No way. As you know, she only talks to students, not reporters and not even student reporters. Truthfully, I don’t want to interview her -- only her mother.
DB: I think if you're going to have someone campaign for you and speak at rallies and answer questions on your behalf in public and you invite media you have to let media ask questions.
JD: I may get that chance on Friday when she comes to Pittsburgh. We shall see.
DB: I think the argument that she wants privacy is sort of null and void when she campaigns so publicly.
JD: True. She's apparently afraid of something. We're not ALL bad in the media.
DB: So what are you seeing in terms of the top challenges for each candidate in PA?
JD: The latest KDKA-TV/Survey USA poll has Obama down by 19 in the state. He's running even in Philly area, but loses the Pittsburgh area by 31 points. I asked him about this yesterday. He said the answer is that he needs to spend more time in PA. People need to get to know him better. I agree.
DB: Wow. Those are some tough numbers in Pittsburgh.
JD: He was supposed to be here tomorrow (Thursday) for an event at one of Penn State's local campuses, but I just got a cancellation notice on that.
DB: I think he has to start campaigning here more aggressively.
JD: Well, Pittsburgh has always been strong Clinton country.
DB: I know it's just started but Hillary has been here for at least a week already.
JD: But it's really because they don't know Obama. We like retail politics -- candidates who camp out here.
DB: I think he's got to get college students to turn out in southeast PA. I think I heard there are 83 colleges in SE PA.
JD: He can’t just break even in SE PA -- Obama has to clobber Clinton there because he probably will lose elsewhere.
DB: That could be really strong for him but in the end I think it will be a 5-8 point separation between whoever wins and loses and the winner will only net a few delegates.
JD: Obama needs to get at least 45% to keep the delegate count close. If she clobbers him by 60 to 40 or more, then she starts to pick up delegates.
DB: He's also closing the gap on superdelegates. I'm watching your interview.
JD: My Obama interview? I actually have posted on the KDKA website my two packages and my full uncut interview.
DB: Nice work!
JD: Thanks. I keep my interviews civil and usually focused on Western PA. Here are the links: http://firstname.lastname@example.org
DB: Well, it's going to be a long campaign here. How many debates do you think there will be? I have a feeling many more will pop up.
JD: Well everyone wants a PA debate but it's not clear Obama will accept one. I am bound to attend whatever PA debate there is, but I'm not sure it really makes a difference.
DB: It's a big and diverse state, so getting wider "known" will be important for Obama.
JD: Obama's strength is the passion of his supporters. I interviewed two grad students (married) from Illinois who are spending spring break here in Pittsburgh at the Obama HQ.
DB: There is certainly great dedication on the part of his supporters. That has always been true, and I think is one of the things that makes his campaign run is incredibly passionate supporters who feel it’s about more than Obama and it's about a real movement to change things.
JD: But at the Chelsea event tonight, I saw lots of students, especially young women, for Clinton.
DB: And they always have "hope." Young voters support Hillary and Obama and McCain for that matter, but Obama has shown pretty strong inroads with young voters consistently.
JD: Well, I'm still not convinced that we will see an overwhelming number of new young voters at the polls but I want to be hopeful.
DB: There are many young Hillary supporters. We've seen it in every primary so far, record young voter turnouts, so I think we will see huge turnout in PA among young voters.
JD: To set a record for young voter turnout is rather easy. It's the percentage of the young vote versus total vote that counts.
DB: But it's not just records, in Iowa it doubled. Everywhere it has doubled, tripled, quadrupled. It’s significant numbers of young voters coming out like never before.
JD: Well let's see what happens in PA. Is every student at Haverford registered to vote?
DB: I think we are going to see overwhelming young voter turnout. Almost our entire campus actually and we've been doing drives. I think since January I heard Philly area has seen over 20,000 new registered voters.
JD: Great. Well, David, I have put in two very long days so I think we're going to close this out until next time.
DB: Alright, until next time, see you on the trail!
JD: Happy campaign trails!