With clipboards and campaign literature in hand, Democrats on campus offered their time this weekend to canvass within the only open congressional district in Pennsylvania this November.
Volunteers from the Penn Democrats went door to door in Swarthmore, Pa., on Saturday on behalf of Bryan Lentz, the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district — a key area of Pennsylvania for statewide candidates. The group also canvassed for U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato.
Penn Democrats Deputy Political Director and Wharton sophomore Troy Daly compared his canvassing experiences in suburban Philadelphia to his experiences in West Philadelphia. Explaining that he ran into his “fair share of Republicans” on Saturday, Daly described the suburbs as one of the places in Pennsylvania where “races are won and lost.”
Penn Political Science professor Jack Nagel agreed, calling the suburbs a “swing area” integral to Gov. Ed Rendell’s victories in 2002 and 2006.
Nagel added that the historically Republican suburbs have been trending Democratic in recent years, making those areas a particularly important region for any statewide candidate.
A state representative and Iraq war veteran, Lentz is facing a tough battle to win the seat currently held by Sestak, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania.
Many political pundits consider Lentz’ Republican opponent, former U.S. District Attorney Pat Meehan, to have a lead in the race. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan group that analyzes political races, currently lists Pennsylvania’s seventh district as “lean Republican,” a race considered competitive but one in which Republicans have an advantage.
Historically, the seventh has been a particularly difficult seat for Democrats to win. The Cook Partisan Voting Index, a measurement of how strongly a congressional district leans to one party compared to the nation, shows that Pennsylvania’s seventh leans Democratic by three percent more than the national average. Yet only four Democrats have represented the district since the end of the Civil War.
Despite this trend, Sestak won his re-election bid in 2008 by a 19.2-percent margin.
Canvasses, while one of the most traditional methods of campaigning, are typically considered to be one of the best methods of getting out the vote, or GOTV.
“It is definitely the most effective method,” Nagel said, referencing a study on GOTV conducted by Yale University Political Science professors Donald Green and Alan Gerber. “Any savvy canvasser,” Nagel added, is the “best weapon you have.”
Reflecting on his experience, Daly explained what he felt he accomplished on Saturday.
“I talked to a lot of voters and I feel like I changed some minds,” Daly said.Comments powered by Disqus
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