The Alabama of Pennsylvania Mirrors New Hampshire

04/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Within an hour of arriving in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a politics and media panel at Gettysburg College a week ago, I was reminded that I was in the Alabama of Pennsylvania. So I decided to take the pulse of the voters.

58-year old Dee Rohrbaugh was busy buying drinks for the bar as she told me about her evening waitressing job and the pleasure she gets watching her grandson every day while her children work.

"I have to be at my Saturday job at Friendly's tomorrow morning, so I have to have my fun tonight" said Dee with a smile. "I like Hillary. I liked the 90's. It was good times." Dee's favorite talk show? Chris Matthews' Hardball.

A parking lot attendant told me he liked Clinton too. "With gas prices what they are, and the economy where it is, I think I like her." Sitting next to him, a middle-aged blond woman disagreed.

"I'm with Obama. He's smart. He was right about the war. He'll take us further."

Walking down the street, I saw three dapper gentlemen in tuxedos who were African American.
"Who are you going to vote for?" I asked.

"Obama." They said in turn, walking proudly.

On campus at Gettysburg, lots of Obama support.

This mirrors what we saw in New Hampshire. The older, blue collar voter seems most comfortable with Senator Clinton. Young people, African Americans, and some independents trend towards Obama. The issue? Not Iraq. The economy. In Pennsylvania, the jobs may be different, but their priorities are not.

Some people share the credit for the economic boom of the '90s with Bill Clinton. Some with both Clintons. Some think it was just good timing.

"I don't see how she, as first lady, was responsible for the economy," says Dee's friend, a 60-year old Republican who plans to vote for Obama if he is the nominee. "I say, let Obama in. Try to get the race issue off the table once and for all."

It's anybody's guess how the state will shake out a week from today. Listening to those voters in Pennsylvania, I'd guess it won't turn on the word "bitter," "gun" or "God." It seems more likely to turn on comfort and trust, and the question of who is better able to turn three jobs back into one.