Republicans predict President Obama will lose Pennsylvania in next year’s presidential election.
"I can guarantee that he will not win (Pennsylvania) this time," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday in a conference call to discuss the debut of the GOP’s second TV ad, part of a four-week drive stressing a message that the president has failed the country on the economy.
The 60-second spot, "Change Direction," compares parts of Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention with the unemployment rate and the national debt.
Priebus said that even though Obama won Pennsylvania "fairly easily" in 2008 (54.7 percent to 44.3 percent for Sen. John McCain) and a Republican presidential candidate has not carried the Keystone State since 1988, the eventual GOP candidate would beat him because the president’s performance has been "abysmal."
Nonsense, responded Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, saying that the GOP is just playing politics with the economy.
"Americans want solutions, and other than negative attacks and working to end Medicare and revive the failed policies of the last decade that nearly sank our economy, Republicans aren’t offering any," Woodhouse said in a statement.
Lara Brown, a political science professor at Villanova University, called it a smart move for Republicans to start the ads in early battleground states. In addition to Pennsylvania, the ads will run in Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.
"These ads are intended to solidify the Republican base around the idea that 2012 is going to be an important election," she said.
Republicans want to remind voters they should be prepared to get involved and give money to ensure Obama does not get a second term, and to reach out to right-leaning independent voters who voted for Republican candidates in the 2010 midterms.
"The purpose is to persuade them to stay aligned with the Republican Party," Brown said.
A national poll Quinnipiac University released yesterday showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in front of the Republican pack with 25 percent, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann in second with 14 percent.
Two contenders who have not declared their candidacy came in third and fourth: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had 12 percent, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 10 percent. Atlanta businessman Herman Cain, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich each received 5 percent; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty got 3 percent; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman each had 1 percent.
Priebus said it’s not too late for more candidates to join the race for the GOP nomination.
"I would expect though by Labor Day the field will be set, and we’ll be off to the races," Priebus said.
Recent polls show Obama’s popularity and approval ratings are down in the state. A recent Public Policy Polling survey had Obama tied with Romney.
Republicans still face a battleground in Pennsylvania, Brown said. "It cannot be dismissed that traditionally, this state votes about 4 percentage points more Democratic than the nation as a whole," Brown said.
She noted that Republicans’ biggest opportunity in Pennsylvania to eke out a win is Obama’s biggest problem: voters who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008.
"Especially women," Brown said. "Obama’s Pennsylvania problem is not only the economy, but the Hillary voters he never won over."
These Democrats, she explained, were skeptical about him before he became president.