Clinton won most Pennsylvania counties

April 24, 2008 2:19:30 PM PDT
Hillary Rodham Clinton won 60 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties in a comfortable primary victory Tuesday, and only a 130,000-vote margin for Barack Obama in Philadelphia kept the state race from turning into a rout. Unofficial results showed that the New York senator beat Obama by about 9 percentage points, but in the state outside of Philadelphia, Obama ran nearly 19 percentage points behind.

"We both did exceptionally well with our base loyal voters," Obama campaign spokesman Sean Smith said. "It just happens that in Pennsylvania, her number of base voters was much higher than ours."

Pennsylvania Democratic Party chairman T.J. Rooney, a Clinton backer, called it "a commanding and decisive victory" that showed her ability to run up an impressive tally in a key state. He said Obama's comments about small-town voters being bitter contributed to Clinton's sizable wins in some counties.

"When you look at the big margins, you can build in more than a few points for the 'bitter' comments," Rooney said. "The towns that he's talking about are in these counties."

Obama won in two suburban Philadelphia counties - Chester and Delaware. In central Pennsylvania, he won Dauphin County, which includes Harrisburg; and Lancaster County, in the heart of Amish country. The Illinois senator took Centre County, with Penn State University; and tiny Union County, home to Bucknell University, where just 4,400 Democratic votes were cast.

Philadelphia went for Obama by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1, and the 280,000 votes he collected there were more than a quarter of his statewide total.

Clinton racked up some of her largest percentage wins in the northeastern coal region counties of Carbon, Luzerne, Lackawanna and Schuylkill. Obama's strong support there from native son Sen.

Bob Casey did him little good, while Clinton and her husband were ubiquitous in that area, reminding voters that she spent childhood summers on Lake Winola.

"There's hardly a better place in the country for Hillary Clinton to perform, and she did there," said Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. "The combination of her family connection to the area and the fact that it's overwhelmingly white, very old and very working class was a dream criteria for Hillary Clinton."

She also won big in rural southwestern counties such as Fayette, Greene, Somerset and Washington. In Allegheny County, which encompasses Pittsburgh, Clinton won 54-46.

The southwest played into the same Clinton strengths that helped her in the northeast, said Tom Baldino, political science professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.

"The demographic profile is very similar: very ethnic, Catholic, older, blue-collar union types," he said.

Baldino said he had expected more Obama votes in Philadelphia's suburban counties.

Clinton eked out a win in Montgomery, home to the state's third-largest concentration of Democratic voters, and took Bucks by about 26 percentage points.

"In Bucks County he took a real hit," Baldino said. "He should have done better."

Smith, the Obama spokesman, said he believed that Clinton's support from Gov. Ed Rendell, a former Philadelphia district attorney and mayor, was reflected in some of the suburban vote counts.

"I think Gov. Rendell might have had something to do with that," Smith said. "He's extremely popular in the Philadelphia suburbs, and was working very hard to get Sen. Clinton elected."