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A friend of mine in a state that voted before PA warned me that I’d be burned out on the presidential race after the primary. He was right. It’s not worth following right now. It’s all about the horse race and the strategery, and I guess it will be for the next six months. Barack Obama has failed, in some respects, to move the media conversation off its sinking foundation in poll numbers, public gaffes and explosive preachers. Oh well.

I can’t complain too much, since I engaged in a little horse-racery myself. But we seem to have suffused the entire presidential process in a cynical brew. When John McCain denounces a negative ad, he’s seen as employing a backhanded trick to keep the ad in the news while keeping his own distance from it.

It’s probably ever been thus. Politicians are human and humans aren’t exactly the noblest of breeds, though we fight pretty hard sometimes to do good things. However, the crises do seem to be piling up pretty thick at the moment, from high fuel prices to food shortages to global warming to an unfinished war to nuclear terrorism (this site graciously lets you imagine the consequences of a bomb in your own hometown!).

Maybe it would be too much to ask people to pay significant attention to the bad stuff. Still, it’s no accident that the stories dominating headlines before 9/11 were about shark attacks and Gary Condit. We want to hear about a disaster only as long as it’s happening to other people, not to ourselves. The major media, safe in their NY/DC bubbles, are as insulated as our politicians, but not any more prone to seeking insulation than the rest of us.

I doubt that people whose homes have been hit by a tornado turn on the TV news to watch the aftermath — at least for now.

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We have a winner in the 33rd Senate district’s write-in campaign on the Democratic side: It’s Bruce Tushingham, a retired teacher from New Oxford. According to the Chambersburg Public Opinion and other sources, Tushingham collected more than 1.600 votes. Rich Alloway, who won the Republican primary, came in second with 1,200 votes. Bob Curley, Jim Taylor and Cathy Cresswell, the three other candidates in the GOP primary, each took about 600 votes.

Alloway and Tushingham will have some company in Green Party candidate Andy Johnson. I hesitate to make a prediction in this race, but something tells me Alloway has a pretty good shot.

Today is when election officials in Adams and Franklin Counties plan to have write-in results from last week’s primary. We’ll know if Bob Curley was successful in his bid as a Democratic write-in for the 33rd PA Senate district. If anyone sees the results elsewhere and cares enough to let me know, please pass them along.  An Adams County official told me yesterday they wouldn’t post the results online, which seems a touch outdated. But oh well.

Write-ins accounted for nearly 6,200 votes in the 33rd. Some were for the usual Disney slate of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, but I’m sure Bob Curley raked in some supporters of his own.

 

Apparently I wasn’t the only one parsing GOP primary returns from PA and their harbingers for John McCain. So was Frank Rich at the NY Times

The conventional wisdom suggests John McCain is the winner of the continuing fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But is all this downtime really such a good thing? Sure McCain’ll be able to raise tons of money, but if money voted, Mitt Romney would be the GOP nominee and Obama would have swept Clinton offstage a long time ago.

We hear a lot about Obama’s seeming inability to connect with the white working class. I wonder if McCain will have the same problem. I don’t think his primary victories really healed the rift over immigration and other issues between him and more conservative Republicans. Those disagreements have been lost in the media’s focus on the Obama-Clinton fight, but they’re likely to return, especially if a conservative third party mounts a challenge.

The numbers from yesterday’s primary bear out the potential for an independent candidate to make inroads among disaffected Republicans (and perhaps among Democrats disaffected by whomever they ultimately choose).

I suspected Ron Paul, though fighting a hopeless cause, would do pretty well in PA.  Alas, my prediction that he could win fell flat. But he did pull down nearly 16 percent of the vote statewide. Paul did even better in York and Adams counties, winning nearly 19 percent and 18 percent of the vote, respectively. With Mike Huckabee also in the mix, McCain didn’t reach 70 percent in either county. Huckabee — who isn’t even pretending to run — came in third, with 11.6 percent in York and 12.9 percent in Adams

McCain got about 73 percent in Franklin County, but Huckabee got nearly 16 percent. Paul came in third with 11.2 percent.

In short, more than one in four Republican voters in PA cast a ballot for someone other than McCain. Maybe they’ll close ranks in November and they were all just exercising their right to disagree. But if general-election unity is so in doubt for Democrats, why doesn’t the same question hang over Republicans? The answer may be different, but it’s still worth asking.

The results are in and it looks like search results were a relatively accurate predictor of the winners of primaries in Adams County.

Will Tallman, who led Mike Rishel most of the way, came out on top with a voting edge of 3,363 to 2,766. He will face a Democrat, Neil Clifford, in the general election to replace retiring state Rep. Steve Nickol in the 193rd district.

Rich Alloway emerged victorious in the four-way GOP race to replace retiring state Sen. Terry Punt. Jim Taylor came in second, despite lagging behind everyone in search results. But — and I should have noted this earlier even though the numbers seemed too small to mention — Taylor had the most people (three) click through here to his campaign web site. Cathy Cresswell, the third-place finisher, had two click-throughs.

At any rate, here are the final results for the 33rd Senate district: Rich Alloway: 9,266; Jim Taylor: 8,933; Cathy Cresswell: 7,728; Bob Curley: 1,379. Alloway dominated in Franklin County while Cresswell rocked Adams. See county-by-county results here.

Curley, of course, switched parties and ran as a Democratic write-in candidate. The Adams County courthouse lists 2,390 write-in votes by Democrats in the 33rd but doesn’t give any names. There were 3,393 Democratic write-in votes in Franklin County, but again no names are attached. York County Democrats added another 357 votes for a total of 6,137. Were they all for Curley? I guess we’ll know eventually.

I hope PA is a bit player in Campaign 2012 so we can avoid painful examples of media condescension like this one. It reminds me of a 1986 video called “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” only much less funnier.

Note that there is only one Cabela’s store in the entire state of PA, and the people who go there are not all rural — or Pennsylvanian. Fortunately, this particular store is located close to the highway and easily accessible to big-city reporters interested in barely scratching the surface.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I would have been in that parking lot in 1986 with my high school friends had it not been for family trip to the beach.

The sign-posters were busy on primary eve along the Lincoln Highway. Hillary Clinton racked up nine signs, more than doubling her previous total. Barack Obama tripled his haul, coming in at three signs. Two new ones appeared on the square in Abbottstown. John McCain even had a sign off the square in New Oxford. So, with less than seven hours until the polls close, Clinton leads the “Count of Presidential Yard Signs along Route 30 between York and Gettysburg, Pa.

Does this mean she’ll win tonight? Who knows. But if I were her, I would try to avoid saying anything nice about anybody no matter what happens. Look how it got Obama in trouble…We wouldn’t want our politicians doing anything but tearing each other down.

Why wait 24 hours when you can have a prediction on tomorrow’s election tonight? On the eve of the most-hyped PA primary in history, I’m posting the local Adams County candidates whose names drew the most searchers to this particular blog both for the entire spring and for the last seven days. Look for an explanation of this exercise here.

There is an interesting difference in the results depending on how far back you look, suggesting that Rich Alloway could be riding to victory on a wave of momentum. If I were you, I would trust the results from the shorter time frame more than the results from all time. WordPress seems to leave some searches out of the latter, creating odd fluctuations.

So, here are the results for all time:

For Terry Punt’s Senate seat:

  1. Cathy Cresswell: 26
  2. Rich Alloway: 23
  3. Bob Curley: 12
  4. Jim Taylor: 8

For Nickol’s House seat:

  1. Will Tallman: 25
  2. Mike Rishel:7

And here are the results for the last seven days…

For Punt’s Senate seat:

  1. Rich Alloway: 13
  2. Cathy Cresswell: 12
  3. Bob Curley:10
  4. Jim Taylor:8

For Nickol’s House seat:

  1. Will Tallman: 24
  2. Mike Rishel:5

Tallman is way ahead on the House side no matter how you slice it. On the Senate side, Alloway is up by one over the last week. But one person on Saturday was searching under “pa state senate democrat primary alloway.” Is it possible that Alloway supporters are encouraging Democrats to write in his name in a bid to block Curley’s write-in bid? Hmmm. I thought politics was supposed to be fair.

Will online searches turn into real votes? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Here’s your Sunday night update on state legislative races in Adams County. The numbers show how many times someone searching a candidate’s name has landed on this page. I’ve already acknowledged the survey’s lack of precision. I’m simply curious whether there’ll be any correlation between these numbers and actual votes on April 22.

In the Senate race to replace Terry Punt, Rich Alloway is closing the gap with Cathy Cresswell. Bob Curley remains a strong third, and thus a likely viable write-in candidate on the Democratic side. Jim Taylor is a distant fourth. Will Tallman maintains a commanding lead over Mike Rishel in the race to replace Steve Nickol

For Punt’s Senate seat:

  1. Cathy Cresswell: 23
  2. Rich Alloway: 22
  3. Bob Curley: 13
  4. Jim Taylor: 8

For Nickol’s House seat:

  1. Will Tallman: 14
  2. Mike Rishel: 2

Some searches combine names (eg “cresswell senate alloway”) and those are included in the total searches for each candidate.