The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune-Democrat.
OK, Pennsylvania, it’s your turn.
If the presidential election were like baseball, the regular season would be over. The wild card games are over. Thanks for playing, Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson.
The divisions are done.
We know who won the pennants. It’s all over but the World Series.
Just like the World Series, in the end, the presidential race always comes down to just a couple of key locations. After months of almost mattering in the primaries only to once again miss that mark, the Keystone State is taking its usual prominent place in the march toward November.
With 20 precious swing state electoral votes at stake, winning Pennsylvania is like winning a critical Game 5 in a best-of-seven. It might not win it all alone, but you can’t win without it.
And, boy, do the teams realize that.
On Aug. 31, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, visited Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood. On Thursday, President Trump made a stop at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.
But it’s not just about the big players. There is a deep and well-funded bench, too.
Super PACs, those political action committee heavy-hitters that brim with money and looser campaign finance rules than the official campaigns, are swinging for the fences in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
An 82-year-old grandma from Westmoreland County named Janie expresses her disappointment with Trump in two ads for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic group.
A stocky union fracker named Shawn accuses Biden of working to put him and everyone he knows out of work for the Republican group America First Action.
Both sides are pouring millions into media buys targeting the state’s voters and issues. American First Action is spending $23 million on a four-state advertising campaign that includes Pennsylvania.
So what does that mean for residents?
A very long nine weeks.
Pennsylvania usually gets attention during these end days of a presidential race.
This year, between the deluge of big-ticket advertising, the in-person visits from the candidates and their surrogates and a barrage of paid social media campaigns and pointed off-the-cuff comments that could be targeted for maximum viral impact, state voters could feel like they are being peppered with 95-mph fastballs.
What’s important is to filter out the crowd noise and the heckling. If we keep the game being played firmly in mind, it can make it easier to pay attention to the spin. We can take what we see in an ad and do the research to find out if it’s a line drive or a foul ball.
And we can remember the reason Pennsylvania is being taken to this ballgame is the millions of votes at stake.