Stumping in the Commonwealth

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have spent more time in Pennsylvania than almost anywhere else in the country since becoming presumptive presidential nominees last summer.

From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Haverford to Harrisburg, Lancaster to Erie. In visits to college campuses and convention centers, factories and fire companies, ice cream parlors and cheesesteak shops.

By the time it's all over, the presidential rivals and their top surrogates will have crisscrossed the Keystone State so often that not even three days went by, on average, in the last 100 days without another scheduled campaign event here.

Analysts say the travel schedule underscores the importance for Republicans to turn their fortunes in a state that hasn’t voted for a GOP candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

“We're probably going to be at a level that could top anything we’ve seen in the past,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs.

Dickinson College politics professor David O’Connell said it was important for Trump to put a focus on the state, in part because his economic message played well with many disaffected working class voters, and also because of the clear need to win more states than Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.

The Republican ticket held 32 events (individual and joint Trump and Pence events) in 25 days in Pennsylvania since June 1, according to LNP’s count. The Democratic ticket was close behind with 28 events in 20 days.

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The number of visits may be similar, Madonna says, to the election years of 2008, 2004 and earlier. But it’s a drastic increase from 2012, when Romney focused on Ohio and other states instead of trying to overcome a narrow path to victory where President Barack Obama won handily in 2008.

This year, the campaign stops put Pennsylvania among Florida, Ohio and North Carolina as by far the most-frequented states in recent months —emphasizing where the candidates have prioritized valuable time and resources in the months when every second counts, a recent MSNBC report showed.

And when considering Clinton, running-mate Tim Kaine and their highest-profile surrogates — Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden and Bill Clinton — the Pennsylvania schedule shows a total of 46 events in 30 days. That includes an Election Day Eve rally in Philadelphia with each of the Clintons and Obamas scheduled to attend.

Madonna says the late flood of Democratic firepower here emphasizes at least one recent trend: the tightening of the polls.

"She's on protection duty," he said of Clinton, who has led in every Pennsylvania poll since June.

The two nominees themselves have each spent the equivalent of two weeks here since the beginning of June. Trump has done 19 events in 16 days, Clinton with 18 events in 13 days, including the day she accepted the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia in July.

Their running mates aren't far behind: about 10 days and 16 events for both Mike Pence and Kaine.

But their Pennsylvania pit stops also don't end with just the scheduled speeches and rallies aimed to galvanize the masses.

In Lititz early last month, Pence stopped to shake hands with voters on the streets while on the way to a rally in Grantville. In August, Tim Kaine enjoyed a few scoops of Strasburg Creamery ice cream before heading to downtown Lancaster for a rally there.

Donald Trump checked out a Wawa near the King of Prussia Mall last week and tasted a famous cheesesteak at Geno's in Philadelphia in September.

Tuesday, when the state’s 20 electoral votes would be up for grabs, will tell if all that extra facetime with voters and travel across Pennsylvania were worth it.

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