With eight universities in the northeastern Pennsylvania area, the top of the ticket usually drives turnout. This year, younger, college-age Obama supporters won't blindly pull the lever for Kanjorski, who has been in office for 26 consecutive years. There's a strong Senate candidate on the state level in Republican Pat Toomey, and Kanjorski has committed the trifecta of voting sins in the past two years: health care, stimulus packages, and bailouts.
"America did vote for hope in 2008, they did vote for change... but that's not what we got," Barletta said, at the Nesquehoning event. "We got someone who wanted to change America."
The 11th district has been called the quintessential battleground race, but "quintessential" could be called "extreme." Most Pennsylvanians are Democrats, voting for moderate liberals with pro-life records. The duel combo of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi has made it all but impossible to be a moderate, however, especially for fiscally-conscious northeastern Pennsylvanians on a fixed income.
Barletta’s inroads during the campaign have turned the race into a referendum on the current Congress, but have also challenged the Democratic staying power in an area of the country where Democrats have traditionally maintained an easy grasp.
Kanjorski has polled about even with Barletta recently, but Steber is more than a little optimistic. During Kanjorski’s monumental time span in office, he’s become just a little... overbaked.
"We’re going to win," said Kelly.