Pennsylvania Is Where Republican Campaigns Go to Die

It’s no accident that John McCain was in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. The state and its 21 electoral votes have become an absolute must-win for the G.O.P. nominee, now that his campaign has all but conceded Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado to Barack Obama.

Pennsylvania is now the only blue state on the board that McCain’s campaign seems serious about trying to win. Doing so would create a net swing of 42 electoral votes, which at least theoretically would make McCain competitive on election night – although even then it probably wouldn’t matter, with Obama poised to pick off at least a few sizable red states.

But we’ve been down this road before. In each of the last four presidential elections, the G.O.P. has made noise about engineering a win in Pennsylvania, often spending considerable time and money in the state and talking about all of the working-class Reagan Democrats who were – supposedly – ripe for the picking. They have failed each time. And, with just two weeks left in the campaign, their prospects for winning the state look as bad as they have in any year since 1988.

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