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Raindrops keep fallin’ on Arlen’s head

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010



What’s Hurricane Schwartz got against Arlen Specter?

A day-long rain all over the Philadelphia region was just what the Sage of East Falls did not need in his bid to hang onto his U.S. Senate seat.

The CW says Specter needed a big favorite-son (favorite-gramps?) turnout from his home city of Philadelphia to overcome the anti-incumbent mood of the moment, so ably exploited by his opponent Joe Sestak (who benefited from his low name recognition to masquerade as an Outside the Beltway insurgent, even though he’s a sitting member of Congress).

But the rain clouds meant Specter did not get the long lines at city polling places that he may need.

Here’s the simple formula, according to conventional political wisdom: Rain first discourages the least-motivated voter.   Urban, lower-income voters tend to be less-motivated voters.   They’re particularly unmotivated to vote for an aging, cranky incumbent who until recently was not a member of their party.   No matter how much prodding gets done by precinct commitee people armed with street money, it’s hard to imagine a huge turnout of urban, low-income voters on a dank, dreary day when the task that’s supposed to drive these voters to the polls is voting for an old guy who they recently saw on TV vamping with Sarah Palin and saying, in effect, “I changed parties to get re-elected.”

Then, again, maybe people in Philly really don’t want to miss out on all the NIH grants Specter has raked into local hospitals and universities over the years.

But that’s mighty thin gruel as a talking point in what looks to be a very visceral year at the polls.


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