According to Salena Zito’s column, Democrats know that the stakes couldn’t be higher than they are in the special election in PA-12:

On paper, the nine Western Pennsylvania counties in the 12th Congressional District numerically favor Democrats by a nice margin.

In reality, the 12th’s people could not be more removed from the Democratic Party ruling out of Washington. More rural/suburban than urban/suburban, the district is chock-full of conservative Democrats who believe in hard work, God and guns.

It is a world that elite liberals fail to understand, as one Democrat strategist confessed in an e-mail: “Have to admit that America is about as foreign as France to me.”

On May 18, ex-congressional aide Mark Critz, a Democrat, and Johnstown businessman Tim Burns, a Republican, will face each other in a special election for the unexpired term of the late Congressman Jack Murtha, a contest that will be repeated, for a new two-year term, in November.

Democrats have a long winning streak in House special elections, notes Isaac Wood, a University of Virginia political analyst: “If that ends now, it will be interpreted as a sign of impending Democratic doom in November.”

Thsi figures to be a test of the Democrats’ November strategy. As that anonymous Democratic strategist admits, they’re out of touch with heartland America. Instead, Democrats seem intent on running against evil: evil Wall Street, evil big banks and evil profiteers. (Hint to Democrats: in Heartland America, small businesses making profits aren’t known as evil profiteers. They’re known as employers.)

The Democrats’ problems run far deeper than just their disconnect with Heartland voters. This says everything:

In a year clearly about Main Street’s disconnect from Washington, Critz curiously asked Vice President Joe Biden to raise money this Friday in downtown Pittsburgh, outside the district. If you’re having Biden fundraise for you, why not have “Mr. Scranton, Pa.” stump for you as well, inside the district?

The simple answer: This is coal country, and Biden famously said during the 2008 campaign that he did not support “clean coal,” backing that up emphatically: “No coal plants here in America!”

The Obama administration’s approval rating in coal country is low. (Think lower than Harry Reid. By ALOT.) Two years ago, people ignored what President Obama said about coal. Had they reacted then the way they’re recoiling now, voters would’ve spared us from the Obama administration’s radicalism.

Critz isn’t running a smart campaign either:

Critz is running as the bearer of Murtha’s legacy. Yet Critz is no Murtha and does not have the power to do what Murtha did in this district.

People instinctively know that the ‘heir’ to Murtha’s throne doesn’t exist. When it comes to influence-peddling and corruption, there was only one John Murtha, though other Democrats aspire to that position of influence.

The Biden problem is emblematic of a bigger problem for Democrats. Think of it this way: If Republicans want to help a candidate in a tight race, they can call on Tim Pawlenty, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan or Sarah Palin to go to that district and fire up the troops and win people over. Democrats facing difficulty with re-election, and there will be many in such a situation this year, can’t call on Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden or President Obama.

If presidential prestige was measured in wins where President Obama campaigned for his candidate, his prestige would be tiny or nonexistent after Virginia, New Jersey and the Massachusetts Senate race. If I’m a Democrat running for re-election in Pennsylvania or Ohio, I’d plead with President Obama to not visit. If he theatened a visit, I’d publicly announce that I’d be out of the country that day.

I don’t know how this special election will play itself out but I’ll confidently say that if Critz loses, it will be an indication that running against Wall Street doesn’t work as well as running on getting government out of the way of job creators.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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