Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey announced his endorsement of presidential candidate Barack Obama today. The announcement set the start of Obama’s Pennsylvania campaign leading to Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary.
“I believe in my heart that there is one person who’s uniquely qualified to lead us in that new direction and that is Barack Obama,” Casey said at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, according to the Associated Press.
Casey’s announcement came as a surprise to some. Previously, Casey stated he would remain neutral in the race. Casey is also Catholic, which may make his endorsement particularly potent for other Catholic voters.
According to Fox News’ election headquarters, Obama’s campaign is hoping Casey’s endorsement will help the presidential candidate “make inroads” with White working-class voters. Casey’s endorsement may also make inroads with Pennsylvania’s Catholic voters, who according to past Pennsylvania polls have favored Senator Hillary Clinton over Obama.
Pennsylvania could be an important step for Obama’s campaign. According to MarketWatch.com, Pennsylvania is the “next prize” in the Democratic struggle for the nomination. Pennsylvania has 158 pledged delegates up for grabs, which could make a big difference for either candidate.
According to recent polls, Obama leads Clinton among pledged delegates 1408-1251. However, Clinton currently leads among super-delegates, which makes Casey’s endorsement all the more important for Obama. Overall, Obama has a delegate lead of 1629-1506. It will take 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic party nomination.
Despite Barack Obama’s apparent lead among delegates, he had fallen behind Clinton in polls leading up to Pennsylvania’s primary. However, according to today’s Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, Obama has once again edged out ahead of Clinton. According to the poll, Obama leads Clinton 46% to 44%. The report states that while the lead is not statistically significant, “it is the first time Obama has had any advantage over Clinton in a week.”
Casey’s endorsement may serve Obama’s best interests on several levels. First, the endorsement may help Obama among Pennsylvania’s Catholic voters, who have thus far preferred Clinton over Obama. Approximately 30% of Pennsylvania’s population is Catholic, with a slightly higher percentage among Democrats, making their vote important to either candidate. Obama also lacks support among organized labor. In Pennsylvania, support has been divided relatively evenly among the two Democratic candidates.
Casey has close ties to organized labor, making his endorsement of Obama all the more positive for the candidate. The final difficult spot for Obama is among Pennsylvania’s elderly voters. In recent polls, older voters have tended to favor Clinton, with Obama remaining popular among younger voters. However, with Obama previously lacking a major endorsement by a statewide Pennsylvania politician, Casey’s endorsement means a major step in the right direction.
According to the Associated Press, Casey has a 62% approval rating among Pennsylvania Democrats. Casey is to campaign with Obama’s bus campaign across Pennsylvania.
Devlin Barrett, “Pa. Sen. Bob Casey Endorses Obama”, The Associated Press
Fox News, “Obama Endorsed by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey”, Elections.FoxNews.com
Rasmussen Reports, “Daily Presidential Tracking Poll”, RasmussenReports.com
Robert Schroeder, “Obama Wins Pa. Senator’s Endorsement”, MarketWatch.com