Locking in Pennsylvania early on would be advantageous for the current Democratic and Republican presidential front-runners, say pollsters who study early swing states to make general election predictions.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found that Clinton has been slowly moving ahead of Giuliani in Florida and Pennsylvania and now runs even in Ohio, according to their “Swing State Poll.”
In a Wednesday press conference at the National Press Club, assistant research director Peter Brown stressed the importance of monitoring the polls in these three states: “No one has been elected President of the United States since John Kennedy in 1960 without carrying at least two of those three,” Brown said. “They are essentially the swing states in the electoral college.”
Quinnipiac matched up Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in a poll released August 8.
“Senator Clinton is making steady progress among independents and Republicans, that’s the movement we’re seeing,” Brown said. “It’s not huge, but it’s steady and across the board.”
Their poll, conducted July 30 through August 6, found that Clinton now tops Giuliani 46 to 44 percent in the Sunshine State, which traditionally leans Republican. The margin of error in the Florida poll was +/- 3.2 percent.
“This is the first time Senator Clinton is ahead [in Florida],” Brown said.
In Ohio, Giuliani and Clinton are tied at 43 percent, with a +/-3.1 margin of error. Clinton has a narrow lead over Giuliani in Pennsylvania--45 to 44 percent. The margin of error in the Pennsylvania poll was +/-3.1 percent. In Quinnipiac’s June 27 poll, the New York senator and the New York mayor were tied 45 to 45 percent.
Clay Richards, also an assistant research director for Quinnipiac University Polling who closely studies Pennsylvania polling shifts, said it would be in Clinton’s interest to secure the Keystone State soon.
“For Mrs. Clinton, Pennsylvania is the most Democratic of the three states, and she wants to get this locked up early,” Richards said. “If she can get a strong lead in Pennsylvania, then she can spend more time in the other states where she has a harder job.”
Richards said Clinton would do well to mimic what proved successful for another Pennsylvania Democrat. “Her strategy is tied very closely to Governor Ed Rendell,” Richards said. “While he was mayor, Rendell went to Washington with Bill Clinton and was his party chairman. Now governor, Rendell will be a lame duck out of office and looking for a job – would probably love to go to Washington again with Mrs. Clinton. And so therefore the governor, a very shrewd and popular governor in PA, would be a big help for her.”
On the other hand, Richards said it would be critical for Giuliani to take Pennsylvania if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee “because he’s an unconventional candidate who needs to win in areas where members of his party usually don’t because he’s not going to win in New York and some of the more conservative states.”
Richards mentioned that Giuliani could still be strong in Pennsylvania because “on 9/11 one of the planes crashed in Pennsylvania and Mayor Giuliani is the hero of 9/11 just as he is in New York and Connecticut.”
Giuliani campaign spokesman Jeffrey Barker noted that three congressmen from critical swing state districts have already endorsed Giuliani’s candidacy. The former New York mayor recently picked up endorsements from Rep. Phil English and Rep. Jim Gerlach, both from competitive districts.
The Politico’s Jim Martin wrote, “In fact, four of the eight Republicans who represent districts carried by John Kerry in 2004 are backing Giuliani (Gerlach, Charlie Dent (PA), Dave Reichert (WA) and Jim Walsh (NY). A fifth Rudy supporter, Jon Porter (NV), is from a district that was effectively 50-50 (Bush won by just over 4,000 votes).”
Giuliani is also supported by two metropolitan New Yorkers: congressmen Peter King and Vito Fossella.