The Pennsylvania, Arizona Battlegrounds

David Wasserman and the folks at fivethirtyeight.com continue to ring the warning bell that the Clinton campaign should be more concerned about Pennsylvania. The immediate reason why they’ve gone back to this topic now is the revelation that Clinton is spending big advertising bucks in every state that was close in 2012 except the Keystone State.

The campaign and an allied super PAC have reserved $137 million of ads across eight states — yet they’ve conspicuously left out the state that might be likeliest to tip the 2016 election: Pennsylvania.

Michigan and Wisconsin were absent from the list, as well, but the Keystone State is the most curious Rust Belt omission.

For context, Clinton is spending $15.6 million in Colorado and nothing in Pennsylvania, but Obama won both states by the exact same 5.4% margin in 2012. Only Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia were decided by less. In fact, Clinton is spending big money in states that were less competitive than PA, like New Hampshire ($8.8. million), Iowa ($11.3 million), and Nevada ($13.1 million).

However, when contacted by Wasserman, the Clinton Team seemed assured that they weren’t making a mistake.

To be fair, pro-Clinton strategists aren’t simply throwing darts at the map. The Clinton campaign employs a phalanx of pollsters and targeting experts, and aides hint that its sophisticated data analytics contradict recent public polls depicting a very tight contest in Pennsylvania. Asked directly about its lack of an ad buy, the Clinton campaign declined comment except to confirm that it has placed field staff in the state.

Now, I have been mentioning recently that Arizona looks like a swing state, and we now have some new evidence for it in a poll done by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights. It’s a good-sized sample of 1,060 Arizonans, and it finds Clinton holding a 46.5%-42.2% lead. This has the state’s Republicans spooked.

Mitt Romney carried Arizona by nine points in 2012.

“It’s shocking to think that a Democratic presidential candidate would carry Arizona if the election were held today, considering that every statewide office in Arizona is held by a Republican as well as significant majorities in the Arizona House and Senate,” said Wes Gullett, a partner of OH Predictive Insight, GOP political consultant and longtime confidant to U.S. Sen. John McCain.

“Arizona should be a reliable red state,” Gullett said.

I haven’t been willing to predict that Clinton will actually win Arizona, but I have been suggesting that it will be close enough to make it worth contesting. This poll suggests that I’m right because, given the margin of error, it shows a toss-up race.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.