Friday, February 10, 2006

Analysts ponder dynamics of campaign teams

Analysts ponder dynamics of campaign teams: "
Analysts ponder dynamics of campaign teams
Friday, February 10, 2006
Of Our Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - There's East vs. West, Democrat vs. Republican, Black vs. White. And, of course, Steelers fans vs. Eagles fans.

But the Republican Party's expected endorsement of Lynn Swann for governor tomorrow morning sets the stage for what might prove to be one of the most interesting pairings in state politics.

The teaming of Swann and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., against Gov. Ed Rendell and state Treasurer Robert P. Casey, Santorum's expected opponent, creates a match-up of big names with big regional bases that might prove key to their running mates.

If Swann, who is black, can draw support from black voters who have traditionally eluded Republican candidates, it could be the edge Santorum needs to nick away at Casey.

"I don't know about the political dynamics of those things," Santorum said.

"But I do think we make a good team, we've got a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm," he said. "I think we'd make a pretty good quarterback, wide receiver pair. I've been working on my arm. I figure I might have to throw some long passes to him."

Or Casey, who is running much stronger than Rendell in parts of the state such as Allegheny County, could help the governor overcome his administration's inability to win over voters west of Valley Forge.

"There are certain positions and values that Bob Casey has stated that definitely appeal to the West," said Penny Lee, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and a Rendell confidante.

It remains uncertain, however, how helpful Swann and Santorum will be for each other -- or Rendell and Casey, whose different positions on abortion and gun control might lead to a lot of ticket splitting.

"I don't think this election hinges on a coalition ticket being able to ratchet up the vote for both partners," said pollster G. Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Republicans, however, are hoping to turn conventional wisdom on its head.

By reaching out to black candidates such as Swann, they hope to draw more support from minorities. Santorum has had some success drawing support from Philadelphia blacks by aggressively reaching out to them since his 1994 election, but the impact has mostly been marginal, party leaders said.

They hope Swann can deliver a few more black votes for Republicans, including Santorum.

History is against them.

"We've yet to see an African-American Republican candidate take a whole lot more of the African-American vote than they would normally get. It just doesn't happen that way," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Cook Political Report, a respected non-partisan publication that tracks elections across the country.

"I'm not a believer that Lynn Swann will be able to attract those votes, and then I don't believe there will be any tangential effect of Rick Santorum being able to attract those votes," agreed one Republican operative.

But some good news for Santorum in the latest Keystone Poll is that he is running close to Casey in southeastern Pennsylvania, where both have struggled to attract support from moderate voters who frequently support abortion rights and gun control.

Even if he doesn't turn out black voters for Republicans, Swann could energize Republicans, particularly if they sense a tight race against Rendell as the latest Patriot-News/WGAL-TV Keystone Poll suggests.

Swann might also bring in casual voters, said Ray Zaborney, Swann's campaign manager.

BRETT LIEBERMAN: (202) 383-7833 or"

No comments: