On Friday evening at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia, the Phillies have a chance to take a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
There may be just over three weeks left until Election Day but the Obama and McCain campaigns strategists and schedulers wisely noted that if you want to get media attention in the southeastern corner of this key battleground state, you better do it on a day without a home playoff baseball game.
Barack Obama and Sarah Palin hit the ground hard on Saturday – Obama, to shore up support in the Democratic-leaning southeastern corner of the state to drive turnout on Nov. 4; and Palin, to try and improve the Republican ticket's chances in that region in order to tighten the polls statewide.
The voter registration statistics in Pennsylvania show a clear advantage for Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by nearly 1.1 million voters. Last year that advantage was around 600,000. Kerry beat Bush by less than 200,000 votes in 2004.
Philadelphia leans heavily Democratic – there are over 800,000 registered Democrats in Philadelphia, compared to about 140,000 Republicans – but the suburbs are the key for both campaigns. Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the moderate suburban areas of Bucks and Montgomery counties. Campaigns aides acknowledge Obama underperformed in the Philadelphia suburbs in the April Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton. Party officials say he most certainly needs a better showing on Nov. 4 to offset his losses in the "T" zone of the state (central and northern PA) if they want to keep Pennsylvania blue.
Obama is the first to arrive in town, attending two fundraisers on Friday night (with entertainment by rocker and Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi). On Saturday the Democratic nominee barnstorms across the city with four events in five hours, including a stop at the famous Mayfair Diner in the Great Northeast.
ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports that the four "neighborhood rallies" are anticipated to be shorter in length than regular rallies and are intended to "energize supporters and generate volunteers." Per the Obama campaign, the economy will factor heavily into his remarks at each stop (and perhaps a shout out to the current favorite hometown team, a team that Obama is backing now that the White Sox are eliminated from the playoffs?) Palin, the most famous hockey mom in America, attends a fundraiser before her main event – she will be at center ice to drop a ceremonial first puck at the Flyers home opener against the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
What kind of welcome will Palin get, on a scale with Will Smith at one end and Michael Irvin at the other end? (With Santa Claus and Terrell Owens somewhere in the middle.) If the Phillies are holding a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series, perhaps the infamous fans will show restraint and be kind.
Palin spent several days in Philadelphia before her debate against Joe Biden last week and learned quickly that in Philadelphia, you are either with their fans or against them. The Alaska governor donned a Phillies hat at a stop at a Center City Irish pub and a Donovan McNabb Eagles jersey for a jog along the Schuylkill River.