10/23/2008

Why the Keystone State Is Key

  • G. Terry Madonna  

In the race to win the presidency, Barack Obama and John McCain have set their sights on the Keystone State.

During the 2004 presidential election, the candidates came to Pennsylvania more than any other state. The candidates and their surrogates have crisscrossed the state holding rallies and pressing the flesh hoping to win the states’ 21 electoral votes.

This week, the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, announced that he planned to concentrate his efforts in the remaining days of his campaign on winning Pennsylvania.

In his new book Pivotal Pennsylvania: Presidential Politics from FDR to the Twenty-First Century, Franklin & Marshall Professor of Public Affairs G. Terry Madonna examines what makes Pennsylvania such a sought-after prize in presidential politics.

Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs and the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, takes readers behind the scenes at political conventions, into smoke-filled back rooms where deals are made and onto the campaign trail as national candidates and favorite sons vie for support in the Keystone State.

“We’re not California or New York, so why does it seem that presidential candidates think Pennsylvania is so important? Battleground states are those that are competitive. Pennsylvania has been among the most competitive states since the 1960 election and for last two presidential election cycles it has been one of the three states most often cited as the most important ones in presidential elections,” Madonna said.

The book explains the state’s rise since the New Deal era to the status of kingmaker. Madonna also describes the presidential candidacies of state political leaders and explores why Pennsylvania voters chose to vote for certain presidential candidates.

Pivotal Pennsylvania: Presidential Politics from FDR to the Twenty-First Century was published by the Pennsylvania Historical Association and is available at the Bookstore for $14.95.

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