Pennsylvania Democratic primary, 2008

The 2008 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania was held on April 22 by the Pennsylvania Department of State in which voters chose their preference for the Democratic Party's candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Voters also chose the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's candidates for various state and local offices. The selected candidates will be placed on the ballot of the 2008 General Election on November 4. The Democratic primary was part of a General Primary that also included the 2008 Pennsylvania Republican primary.

The Democratic primary was open to registered Democrats only. Polls opened at 7am and closed at 8pm. Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton were the only candidates on the ballot for President of the United States. [cite web|url=|title=Unofficial List of Candidates|format=PDF]

Delegate breakdown

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party sends a total of 187 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Of those delegates, 158 are pledged and 29 are unpledged. All of the 158 pledged delegates are allocated (pledged) to vote for a particular candidate at the National Convention according to the results of the Pennsylvania Presidential Primary on April 22. The 29 unpledged delegates (popularly called "superdelegates" because their vote represents the decision of a single person rather than the regular delegate's vote representing the collective decision of many voters) are free to vote for any candidate at the National Convention and are selected by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's officials.cite web |title=Pennsylvania Delegate Selection Plan For The 2008 Democratic National Convention |publisher=Pennsylvania Democratic Party |date=2007-08-25 |url= |format=PDF |accessdate=2008-04-21] cite web |last=Berg-Andersson |first=Richard |title=Pennsylvania Democrat Presidential Nominating Process |publisher=The Green Papers |date=2008-05-01 |url= |accessdate=2008-05-01]

The 158 pledged delegates are further divided into 103 district delegates and 55 state-wide delegates. The 103 district delegates are divided among Pennsylvania's 19 Congressional Districts and are allocated to the presidential candidates based on the primary results in each District. The 55 state-wide delegates are divided into 35 at-large delegates and 20 Party Leaders and Elected Officials (abbreviated PLEOs). They are allocated to the presidential candidates based on the preference of the delegates at the State Committee meeting on June 7.

Of the 29 unpledged delegates, 26 were selected in advance and 3 are selected at the State Committee meeting. The delegates selected in advance are 13 Democratic National Committee members, the 11 Democratic U.S. Representatives from Pennsylvania, Democratic U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Bob Casey, Jr., and Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

As of April 30, 16 superdelegates had announced support for Senator Clinton and 5 had announced support for Senator Obama. [cite web |url= |title= CQ Politics Primary Guide |accessdate=2008-02-20 |work= CQ Politics]

Importance of Pennsylvania

The primary is the first time since 1976 that Pennsylvania will play a major role in a presidential nomination. [cite news |last=Infield |first=Tom |title=The last time a Pa. primary mattered |date=2008-03-24 |work=The Philadelphia Inquirer |url= |accessdate=2008-04-16]

Importance of Pennsylvania for Clinton

As the race continued to Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina, many observers had concluded that Clinton had little chance to overcome Obama's lead in pledged delegates. [cite news |last=Alter |first=Jonathan |authorlink=Jonathan Alter |title=Hillary’s New Math Problem: Tuesday's big wins? The delegate calculus just got worse.| work=Newsweek |date=2008-03-05 |url=]

Former President Bill Clinton highlighted the importance of the state for the Clinton campaign saying on March 11 at an event in Western Pennsylvania that "If she wins a big, big victory in Pennsylvania, I think it’ll give her a real big boost going into the next primaries... I think she’s got to win a big victory in Pennsylvania. I think if she does, she can be nominated, but it’s up to you." [cite news | url= | title=Bill: Hill needs 'big, big victory' in PA || date=2008-03-11 | accessdate=2008-03-12] This was a repetition of his tactic before March 4, warning supporters that his wife might not be able to continue if she did not win Ohio and Texas. [cite news |last=Wheaton |first=Sarah |url= |title=Bill Clinton: Texas and Ohio or Bust |work=The New York Times |date=2008-02-21 |accessdate=2008-03-12] Hillary Clinton emphasized that Pennsylvania was something of a home state for her, as her father came from Scranton, Pennsylvania, she and her brothers were christened there and had vacationed near there each summer, and her brothers still maintained the family cottage near there. [cite news |url= |title=Pennsylvania Ties Could Help Clinton |last=Seelye |first=Katherine Q |authorlink=Katharine Q. Seelye |work=The New York Times |date=2008-03-10 |accessdate=2008-03-14]

Importance of Pennsylvania to Obama

On March 19, 2008 Barack Obama chose Philadelphia as the site to deliver his much-anticipated "A More Perfect Union" speech dealing with the race and the controversy surrounding his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


Obama's "Road to Change" Bus Tour

Obama started a 6-day "Road to Change" bus tour across Pennsylvania, with stops in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, State College, Harrisburg

On March 28, Obama started the bus tour with a rally in Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall. [ [ Obama's Bus Tour Rolls Through Pittsburgh, Johnstown, State College - Politics News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh ] ] Obama was introduced and endorsed by Senator Bob Casey, Jr., who had indicated earlier that he would remain neutral in the democratic primary. [ [ Bob Casey Endorses Barack Obama - New York Times ] ]

Casey traveled to Florida over the Easter holiday, where he said rain forced him to stay inside and think about the election. Obama's ability to "transcend" the racial divide and his ability to engage younger voters proved decisive to his decision. According to sources, Casey's four daughters lobbied their dad to endorse Obama. [ [ Obama wins endorsement from Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania - International Herald Tribune ] ]

On March 29, the Obama bus tour stopped at the Pleasant Valley Recreation Center in Altoona, where he famously bowled a 37. [ [ Obama Bowls for Pennsylvania Voters - Politics on The Huffington Post ] ] Both Obama and Senator Casey (who rolled a score of 71) lost to local homemaker Roxanne Hart, who rolled a score of 82. [] On April Fool's Day, Senator Clinton jokingly challenged Obama to a "bowl-off," with the winner taking all the delegates. [ [ Clinton challenges Obama to bowl-off - Hillary Clinton News - ] ]


On April 11, 2008, Huffington Post blogger Mayhill Fowler reported that during an April 6 fundraising event in San Francisco, Obama recounted the obstacles facing his campaign in the Pennyslvania primary as it pertained to rural, white voters. [cite web|url=|title=Obama: No Surprise That Hard-Pressed Pennsylvanians Turn Bitter] Fowler wrote that during the speech, Obama said the following:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Fowler later posted a three minute 30 second audio snippet confirming the accuracy of the remark. Senators Clinton and John McCain both issued statements condemning the remarks. [cite web|url=|title=Clinton Says Obama is “Out of Touch” with Middle Class Americans, Calls Comments “Elitist” See also: cite web|url=|title=McCain Camp: Barack Obama is an “Elitist”] Obama later defended his comments, but conceded: "I didn't say it as well as I should have." [cite web|url=|title=Obama says he erred in comments on "bitter" voters] However, he also added: "I said something that everybody knows is true." [Finnegan, Michael. [,1,6505389.story “Obama expresses regret for remarks on small towns”] , "Los Angeles Times" (2008-04-13).] Obama had addressed similar themes of guns, religion, and economics in 2004 during an interview with Charlie Rose. [ [ short clip of Interview with] Charlie Rose See also: cite web|url=|title=Full interview with Charlie Rose]

Final week

On the last Friday before the primary, Senator Obama spoke in Independence Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a crowd of more than 35,000, the largest audience yet drawn by either candidate during the campaignFact|date=April 2008. The crowd was nearly twice what had been projected [cite web|url=|title=Presidential Candidate Barack Obama Rally|date=2008-04-18|publisher=Philadelphia Independent Media Center|language=English|accessdate=2008-04-20] and spilled over into nearby streets. [cite web|url=|title=OBAMA'S CLOSING ARGUMENT? |last=Anburajan|first=Aswini |date=2008-04-18||accessdate=2008-04-20] The next day, Obama conducted a whistle stop train tour from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, drawing a crowd of 6,000 at a stop in Wynnewood and 3,000 at a stop in Paoli. On Monday, Sen. Obama held the final events of his Pennsylvania campaign in Scranton, McKeesport and at the University of Pittsburgh's Petersen Events Center. [cite news|url=|title=Obama takes whistle-stop tour through Pennsylvania|last=Sidoti|first=Liz|date=2008-04-19|publisher=Associated Press|accessdate=2008-04-20]

The Saturday before the primary, Senator Clinton spoke in five Pennsylvania cities, including West Chester and York, Pennsylvania. More than 300 people showed up at the West Chester firehouse to hear the New York Senator speak. [cite news|url=,1,3663470.story|title=Clinton scrambles to hold onto waning lead in Pennsylvania|last=Roug|first=Louise|date=2008-04-20|publisher=Los Angeles Times|language=English|accessdate=2008-04-20] At the Wilson high gymnasium in West Lawn, Pennsylvania, Clinton told several hundred more supporters: "The job of a leader is to bring people together to solve problems . . . to understand that sometimes we have to fight to get the political will and the votes to make that happen". On Monday, April 21, Senator Clinton along with husband Bill Clinton spoke to a crowd of 6,000 in Downtown Pittsburgh. Other events were held Monday in Scranton, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia. [cite news|url=|title=Clinton: I have the political will|last=Fitgerald|first=Thomas|date=2008-04-19|publisher=Philadelphia Inquirer |accessdate=2008-04-20] Both candidates have refused to participate in the political custom of street money.cite news|first=Dave|last=Davies|title=Word on the street: No election $|url=|publisher=Philadelphia Daily News|date=2008-04-15|accessdate=2008-04-22]


Public opinion polling from early January 2007 through mid-February 2008 consistently gave Hillary Clinton a double digit lead over Barack Obama. [cite web |title=2008 Pennsylvania Democratic Presidential Primary |url= | |accessdate=2008-03-28] By the beginning of April, polls of Pennsylvanians showed Obama trailing Clinton by an average of 5 points. [cite web|url=|title=Quinnipiac University See also: cite web|url=|title=Time Magazine|format=PDF cite web|url=|title=Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion|format=PDF cite web|url=|title=Muhlenberg College|format=PDF cite web|url=|title=Public Policy Polling|format=PDF] According to 2 polls taken one day before the primary, Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama by 49%-42% and 51%-41%. Other polls showed Clinton leading by an average of about 6%. [cite web|url=|title=Pennsylvania Democratic Primary information at]

Voting problems

The League of Women Voters reported hundreds of calls pertaining to two major issues. The first major issue was of faulty voting machines - in many locations, all voting machines were broken with no paper ballots available. Voters were told to wait for an expert to repair the machines, but many voters report leaving before getting a chance to vote. The second major issue was with former Republicans who had recently changed registration to Democrat arriving at polls only to find their registration had not been officially changed and were thus unable to vote in the Democratic primary. [cite web |url= |title=Pennsylvania Primary: Polling Place, E-Voting Problem Wire |publisher=The Brad Blog |date=2008-04-22 |accessdate=2008-04-22]


Primary date: April 22, 2008

National pledged delegates determined: 158

In the end, Hillary Clinton won the primary by 9.28 percentage points, a wider margin than expected than recent polls suggested, but smaller than most January and February polls. Despite her victory, she gained only nine delegates on Obama. In particular superdelegates were not swinging in her direction after her win; the Clintons had been trying to secure the support of Congressman Jason Altmire but he remained uncommitted after she won his district by 31 percentage points during the primary. []

See also

* Pennsylvania Democratic primary, 2004
* Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008


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