The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

You Can’t Sell Free-Market Economics to Pork Addicts


Now here’s an analysis on Pennsylvania’s 12th district I find compelling: Forget Democrat vs. Republican registration numbers; this is a pork-based district, and the voters knew that the guy who talked about creating jobs in the private sector wasn’t as committed to bringing home the bacon.

From the Washington Post:

“He got us millions of jobs,” Charles Finnegan, 72, a retired construction worker, said of Murtha after casting his ballot in nearby Windber. “Critz, he’s going to follow John Murtha’s way of thinking.”

Nathan Wurtzel, one of the sharpest political guys on Twitter in my neck of the woods, asks, “How do we reach voters who think millions of jobs were created in a district of 600,000 people? The fact is, nearly 20,000 jobs were LOST in this district over the last decade, Murtha’s airport notwithstanding.”

A reader familiar with the area weighs in:

If you’ve ever been in Johnstown, stop by the flood museum,  it’s pretty good but about the only thing going on in the area. Murtha survived (and thrived) by being a porkmeister par excellance. There is no industry surviving, no business and the area is hard to get to the coal/steel hill country. I think Burns had to compete with a socially conservative but traditional union voter population that has looked for it’s representative in D.C. to bring home the bacon. Critz could tie himself to Murtha’s success in that regard. Of all the Northeastern states, Pennsylvania is much like Maine in that the finance/software/services economy has not fully compensated for the collapse of the older heavily unionized industrial base. Republicans have to sell  the hard proposition that there is no more money to give out.

The reader is correct, but we should realize the difficulty of the message “There is no more free ice cream” against the message “There is plenty of free ice cream, and I will make sure you get your share.”

One other note from another reader, looking down the road a bit: “Mark Critz should enjoy this while he can. In 2012, he’ll need CSI to identify the remains of this district after the GOP finishes redistricting.”

Tags: John Murtha , Mark Critz , Tim Burns


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