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Sestak's victory resembles Hillary Clinton's win in Pa. primary

By Paul Kane
PHILADELPHIA -- The Clinton model topped the Rendell model.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), using Gov. Ed Rendell's Democratic consultants, bucked the governor's route to victory in his 2002 primary and instead took the path used by then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in her 2008 presidential primary victory.

While turnout for this primary was going be less than half of the Clinton-Obama race, Sestak used a similar approach, with a few slight tweaks of his own to win the race. In 2008, Clinton kept then-Sen. Obama's margin down in Philadelphia, fought to a draw in the four large suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia and then swamped Obama in the rest of the state.

Sestak almost exactly duplicated Clinton's performance in Philadelphia, but then outperformed Specter in those four suburban counties; he won three of them narrowly and romped in his native Delaware County. From there, Sestak won much of the rest of the state, including collecting more than 52 percent of the vote in Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, which delivered a similar 54 percent margin for Clinton in 2008.

In his 2002 primary against Robert Casey Jr., Rendell thoroughly dominated now-Sen. Casey in the southeastern region, creating an impossible hurdle for Casey to overcome in the rest of the state.

Here are a few key numbers that tell the tale of the tape in this primary:

* 163,000. With nearly 97 percent of precincts reporting, that was the total number of votes from Philadelphia. In 2002, there were more than 280,000 votes from Philadelphia, with more than 78 percent going to Rendell. Specter had more than 104,000 of those Philadelphia votes, but in 2002 Rendell culled almost 225,000 votes from his hometown. Getting so few votes from his hometown, Specter's fate may have been sealed right there.

* 68.6. That's the percentage of Sestak's vote in Delaware County, his home base. On the eve of Tuesday's vote, Sestak's campaign never believed that its candidate would get a greater share of the vote in his home base than Specter would get in Philadelphia, but they did just that as Specter got about 64 percent of his hometown vote. This was a key sign of how much more energized Sestak's most loyal supporters were, even though he has represented them in Congress for a little more than three years.

* 50.7/50.8. That's the percentage of the vote that Clinton got from Montgomery County in 2008, the largest of the four inner-suburbs. And Tuesday night, Sestak got 50.8 percent of that key county's vote. By keeping Specter's Philadelphia margin to Obama's level, winning Delaware County by a huge margin and edging out Specter in Montgomery, Sestak completely neutralized any advantage Specter hoped to have in the southeast corner of the state.

* 59.2. That's Sestak's voting percentage in Cambria County, aka, Murtha Country. The county seat is Johnstown, where the late Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) reigned for 36 years before his death. Sestak spent a lot of time in places like Johnstown, securing the backing of FDR Democrats, cultural conservatives who never liked Specter as a Republican. While Sestak underperformed Clinton's performance in Cambria County -- she got nearly 72 percent of the vote there -- he racked up just big enough margins in those places to seal his victory.

By Paul Kane  |  May 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Rand Paul's primary win in Kentucky leaves his father beaming

Comments

Now all the WP crack reporters/editorialists needs to do is press Sestak to answer the question of who specifically at the White House offered him a job to drop out of the race, what was the job and was President Obama aware of this attempted bribe!

Posted by: rteske | May 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

There are many women in PA who remember the way Specter treated Anita Hill.
They also remember that Hillary Clinton was cheated out of the nomination in 2008 by cheating by the Obama camp and the DNC rigging the rules. Because of those things, Obama being for Specter was not an advantage for Specter.
It would be interesting to see how the votes broke down along gender lines and age.

Posted by: teresainpa | May 19, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

There are many women in PA who remember the way Specter treated Anita Hill. They also remember that Hillary Clinton was cheated out of the nomination in 2008 by cheating by the Obama camp and the DNC rigging the rules. Between Obama being for Specter and it was not an advantage for Specter.
It would be interesting to see how the votes broke down along gender lines and age.

Posted by: teresainpa | May 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Concerning the Cambria County analysis: the county seat is Ebensburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Johnstown is the largest and principal city in Cambria County but it is not the seat.

Posted by: bubbaclem | May 19, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

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