Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good weather for Pennsylvania primary

They're calling for mild weather across Pennsylvania today, from Erie to Philadelphia, from Stroudsburg to Pittsburgh. This usually translates to high turnout. Like in 2004, when Arlen Specter faced a primary challenge, his reƫlection bid was saved at the last minute when the predicted rain failed to materialize, thus boosting turnout and helping him swamp Pat Toomey, his Republican challenger.

Heavy numbers of new voters probably will help Obama, but we'll see. Lord, I hope it does. I just want this thing to be over, so Obama can start landing punches on McCain.

I have bowled in Pennsylvania. I know that neither Obama nor Clinton would be anything but risible if they turned up in the Thorton Hall bowling alley in Sharon or Buzzy's in Hermitage. And I don't care. My best game ever was something like 180, which was unusually good for me. I usually land in the 120s or so. Bowling, whisky and beer are a lifestyle near and dear to we Pennsylvania natives. So's Polish sausage and rye bread. But considering that the last decent bowler we had in the White House was Richard Nixon, well... maybe that's not such a good metric to base your vote for president on.

Still, one thing I'm nervous about is how 160,000 Republicans switched their registrations to Democratic last month. As much as I'd like to read that as a groundswell of movement from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, I'm sure that's not the case. Much of this is no doubt voters who just wanted to have a say in the primary, and since the Republican nomination was already wrapped up, they're voting to choose their favorite Democrat, too, thus giving themselves more of a real choice in November. But how many of these are mischief voters, registering as Democrats just to vote for the weakest Democratic candidate? Comedian Rush Limbaugh has encouraged voters to do this very thing through his "Operation Chaos" campaign of messing with Democratic elections, and this tactic did wind up influencing the primaries in Mississippi, Texas and Ohio last month. Of course, that also wound up denying many of these Republicans to vote in other primary elections, which wound up giving more support to the weaker Republican candidate in Mississippi's conservative First District, and might result in electing a Democrat there this year.

Hopefully "Operation Chaos," in all its undemocratic glory, won't screw up the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania this time, or any of the other nine primaries yet to come. But think about it: if Rush Limbaugh of all people is telling you to vote for Hillary Clinton, shouldn't that alone give you pause for whatever reason?

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