Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Kanjorski in the Wrong Lane?
A Captain Renault post: In one of the most fascinating Congressional races in the country, incumbent Congressman Paul Kanjorski has been stuck in traffic in the wrong lane as his fellow Democratic candidates for Congress all over the country speed right by him on the road to victory.
Democrats are poised to make big gains in Congress, Obama is leading McCain nationally and certainly will win PA, and voters are choosing a generic Democrat over a generic Republican by clear margins in every poll published anywhere in the last 6 months. Yet Kanjorski has been behind Barletta from the start and continues to remain behind Barletta in all public polls to date.
Most independent observers of Congressional races list Kanjorski as one of the very few seats currently held by a Democrat to be in serious jeopardy. The Swing State Project has been closely monitoring Congressional races all year and they list the PA 11th as 1 of only 4 Democrat seats in the country that could be lost to the Republicans. One of those seats is in TX, another in LA, and the third is held by Democrat Tim Mahoney who is now embroiled in a sex scandal.
How does a Congressman in a district in Northeastern PA with a significant Democrat registration advantage and an Average Democrat Performance advantage of +5 end up on this small, select list at this stage of the campaign season?
Some analysts have pointed to the immigration issue as the key to Barletta's electoral success to date. While I agree that Barletta's shameless hyping of the "dangers" of immigrants living and working in the Hazelton area certainly got him on the map and kick-started his campaign it is hard to believe that the PA 11th will be the only congressional district in the entire country that will be lost to a Democrat because of "the immigration issue". Immigration has faded as an issue nationally as the economic collapse has replaced it in the forefront in voters' minds according to all national and state polls.
If the immigration issue is that potent in this little corner of the country, why are all of the incumbent Democrat State House members either unopposed or facing weak Republican opponents?
There will be many opinions registered on how and why Kanjorski got stuck in the wrong lane as his colleagues drove by to victory if he in fact loses. The bottom line for now is that this is a race that analysts and partisans will be watching very closely over the next few weeks to see if Kanjorski can switch lanes and pull out a win.