The clear winner? Pennsylvania
And it was not Hillary Clinton. Yes, the senator from New York had a pretty good night. She posted a 10-point victory over Sen. Barack Obama, and in the process kept her uphill battle for the Democratic nomination alive.
But the real winner was, in fact, Pennsylvania.
The state spent six weeks in the national spotlight, the zenith of presidential politics. And we rose to the challenge.
We played “hardball” with Chris Matthews; we hosted the hordes of national media; and we got used to the site of satellite trucks in our neighborhoods.
But we did much more than that. We got involved. We got engaged. We put a surge of electricity into the process.
People who were not registered to vote got back into the process. Young people, often pegged as too aloof and disconnected, became engaged. Record numbers of first-time voters were enrolled.
We got involved in the process, discussed the issues, and pushed the candidates to one of the truly memorable presidential primary experiences.
Then we turned out in record numbers.
Now it’s time to see what was accomplished.
Here are a couple of thoughts. There is now another ‘D’ involved in this epic battle. It does not stand for Day of Decision, nor Democrats.
It stands for doubt, and it is now hung around the neck of Obama. The whispers are getting louder, many of them being voiced by Clinton and her supporters. Obama can’t seal the deal. He can’t – and hasn’t – won in any of the big industrial states that the party will need to topple Republican Sen. John McCain in the November general election.
And if Obama is looking for whose fingerprints are on the dagger, he need look no further than Philadelphia and the four suburban counties.
Yes, he took Philadelphia. But he didn’t win it by enough to offset the tidal wave of support for Clinton elsewhere in the state. Same goes for Delaware County, which also went for Obama, but by a slim margin.
More surprising are the results from Bucks and Montgomery County, which ended up in the Hillary camp. She put a 2-1 whipping on Obama in Bucks County and eked out a win in Montco.
Obama took Delco and Chester County. Someone will have to explain the latter one to me. This is a county that continues to be solidly Republican, backing President Bush and sending Jim Gerlach back to Congress when other Republicans in the region were being shown the door.
Then there’s this oddity. Two of Clinton’s biggest backers were Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Both obviously have big voices in the city, which went solidly for Clinton.
In Delaware County, Clinton had the backing of rookie Congressman Rep. Joe Sestak. So of course the county went for Obama.
Obama’s challenge was to win big in the suburbs to offset the near domination of Clinton everywhere else in the state. If you look at a map of Pa. it’s stunning to see a solid sea of “Clinton Country” counties, with a small island of Centre County in the middle of the state. Can you say State College and tons of young collegiate voters?
Bottom line? Obama didn’t get it done.
And that ‘D’ hanging around his neck will continue to loom large until he wins somewhere he’s not supposed to.
That D isn’t for Democrat. It’s for doubt. And it’s getting bigger every day.