off of the dissatisfaction constituents felt
with the Republican Party’s performance in
Washington. Kanjorski also benefitted from the popularity of the Democratic presidentialnominee,
Barack Obama. In fact, Obama’s favorability is often credited for Kanjorski’s
narrow win in 2008.Given that the current president is no longer an unpopular Republican, but anunpopular Democrat, it was impossible for Kanjorski to nationalize the race through suchcomparisons, like he did in 2008, for
his benefit. Barletta’s campaign staff accusedKanjorski of attempting to localize the election. “D
emocrats cannot run on their records,whether it's votes for bailouts, health care, [or] cap-and-trade energy legislation," said
Barletta’s campaign spokesman.
Since Kanjorski was forced to distance himself from thenational Democratic Party
, criticizing Barletta’s local performance was one of the few
alternatives the incumbent could focus on.Barletta, on the other hand, was able to take a similar strategy to Kanjorski
in2008. By associating Kanjorski with Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and other powerfulWashington Democrats, he could blame Kanjorski for health care reform and other issuesthat party elites have supported recently which have split public opinion. For those voterswho were not satisfied with the job the Democrats had done in the past two years,nationalizing the election would put Kanjorski in a negative light by association.Another part of Barletta
’s strategy was being open, available and accountable to
constituents, which he argued Kanjorski was not. Barletta held five open town halls overthe course of his campaign, and also asked that a series of debates be held between himself and Kanjorski.
However, Kanjorski did not agree to additional debates or participate inthe town halls.