As a yellow-dog Democrat who also happens to be a gun nut, I view every election through the prism of how the gun issue will impact the vote, as well as how the vote will impact guns. Which is why I have been waiting with great anticipation for the Pennsylvania primary, because the Keystone State in many respects is a perfect mirror for projecting how the gun issue may play out come November 8.
First, Pennsylvania is a ‘swing’ state; i.e., you don’t win it, the path to the White House gets pretty tough. Second, the state has mucho pro-gun and anti-gun constituencies; the former living in the vast, rural swatch between Philly at one end of the state and Steel City at the other, the latter controlling the political balance of power in those two big towns. And let’s not forget that it was in Pennsylvania that our sitting President almost lost his primary campaign in 2008 because of his obsession with all those Quaker ‘clingers’ who couldn’t detach themselves from their religion or their guns.
So here we are back in Pennsylvania eight years later and this time it’s Hillary who’s getting in the face of gun owners with a promise to make guns a “voting issue” which are fighting words to the NRA. And she’s going further than just putting herself squarely in favor of more gun control, she’s also stated explicitly in a Town Hall event the day before the primary that she wants politicians punished who follow the NRA.
This is the same Presidential candidate, by the way, who tried to position herself as a pro-gun gal when the Bomber made his ‘clinging’ statement back in 2008. She sent letters out to rural voters wistfully recalling going on hunting trips with Dad; she backed off from a previous commitment to register handguns nationwide; she was all gun-warm and gun-cuddly in an effort to pull in Democratic votes from smaller towns.
So in a final and probably successful effort to knock Bernie out of the box, Hillary is also setting up a November confrontation with “I love the 2nd-Amendment” Donald Shlump, she’s also getting ready to turn the general election into a referendum about guns. Which is why I couldn’t wait to see what would happen in Pennsylvania yesterday, and what happened from a GVP perspective, was a very good result.
It goes without saying that Hills won the big cities – Philly, Pittsburgh, Erie and Allentown, the latter interesting because it’s in the middle of the Lehigh Valley which has seen better days economically except that was so long ago that nobody remembers those better days. I thought the ‘left behind’ areas were prime markets for Sanders, but I n this case I was wrong.
But I was wrong about something else as well, namely, that Hillary was even competitive in some of the most gun-rich parts of the state. She won York County, for example, won it only by a couple of points, but won it nonetheless. And York County probably has more guns than people, at least judging from the crowds that roll through the York gun show every three months.
On the dumb side, Donald Shlump won York County handily, rolling up more votes than the other two putzes combined. But before anyone believes that Hillary is making herself vulnerable to the NRA noise machine because of her new-tough stance, the total dumb vote in all of Pennsylvania was 1,573,338, the blue vote was 1,652,863.
Now all I’ve been hearing this primary season is how the Shlump has brought all kinds of disaffected Democrats out to vote red for the first time and in some states this may have been true. But it wasn’t true yesterday in Pennsylvania, and Hillary didn’t hurt herself at all with her non-compromising statements about guns. Pennsylvania was good news for Hillary and good news for the GVP. Come November, it may turn out that loving the 2nd Amendment won’t count for much at all.