Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Romney's coal play for Pa. gets little issue analysis; and if he loses, GOP may have to become less rural

Mitt Romney's final-week play for Pennsylvania resembles "the coal-fueled campaign" he has run in Appalachian areas of Ohio and Virginia, but journalists in the state haven't given voters enough of the facts on the issue, writes Ken Knelly of Columbia Journalism Review. (Getty Images photo: Romney speaks in Yardley, Pa., on Sunday)

"Last Tuesday, the Romney campaign made its first ad buy this state, making a play for votes in western Pennsylvania in particular by casting the Obama administration’s energy policies as “crush[ing]” Pennsylvanians and touting Romney’s “different” energy plan (quoting Romney’s “I like coal” line from the first presidential debate)," Knelly reports. "The Republican National Committee and pro-Romney super PACs Restore our Future and Americans for Job Security have also poured several million dollars into ad buys here over the past week, totaling nearly $12 million from Romney and supporting super PACs and $1.6 million from the Obama camp."

Knelly says some Pennsylvania newspapers and TV stations have done a good job tracking the spending, but not analyzing the substance of the Republican ads: "reporting that places it in the larger context of coal-related rhetoric in this campaign and fills readers in on key things to know when evaluating what’s happened in the coal industry in recent years and why." Knelly lauds an analysis by Jon Delano of KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh of ads in the state's Senate race, but says "He didn’t, as little of this reporting seems to, discuss coal industry employment numbers over the course of Obama’s term (in a nutshell, up from 2009-2011 and down in 2012) or the role natural gas has played in putting market pressure on coal—two key points to understanding what’s happened in the industry and why." (Read more)

If Romney loses, Republicans will have to become less rural, to follow the nation's demographic trend, writes Jonathan Martin of Politico: "The GOP coalition is undergirded by a shrinking population of older white conservative men from the countryside, while the Democrats rely on an ascendant bloc of minorities, moderate women and culturally tolerant young voters in cities and suburbs. This is why, in every election, since 1992, Democrats have either won the White House or fallen a single state short of the presidency." (Read more)

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