A Window On Pennsylvania's Politics

allentown, pennsylvania
This is what Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley is supposed to look like: shuttered steel mills, aging citizens, a struggling old economy captured in Billy Joel's music video for his song, Allentown, that seemed to embody the valley.

But is this really an accurate picture of a region that often mirrors Pennsylvania's political mood? CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield reports that things have changed in the heart of the Keystone state.

"Well, it might have been accurate 20 years ago ... but clearly the times have changed," says Muhlenberg Political Science professor Chris Borick. "Lehigh Valley is one of the epicenters of the new economy in Pennsylvania."

"We have right here, PPL, Pennsylvania Power and Light, a Fortune 500 company, is headquartered in this city," Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

Times have definitely changed in Allentown.

Pawlowski rattles off the changes - hundreds of millions invested in area hospitals, a robust jobs market and a per capita income above the national average. Maybe most symbolic: Air Products, which started out supplying oxygen to steel mills, but now thrives as a high-tech $10-billion company.

If the economic reality here in the Lehigh Valley doesn't match the old picture, neither does the politics. This would have been ideal terrain for the Clinton campaign 10 or 20 years ago.

But now?

"Up until last week, I thought it was going to be pretty much of a walkover for Sen. Clinton," says Glenn Kranzley, Editor of the Allentown Morning Call. "But things have tightened up."

Kranzley points to the endorsement from popular Sen. Bob Casey as a big factor.

"In Pennsylvania, the Casey name is golden," Kranzley said.

Though the valley has a large share of older voters, Hispanics and working class - who lean towards Clinton - it's the "new economy" workers, like those at Air Products, who demonstrate why Clinton cannot take the Lehigh Valley for granted.

"I really think Obama is passionate about creating change as opposed to being just President," says Damien Brown, an Obama supporter.

That's not to say Clinton lacks support.

"She's been a champion for women's, women's rights and children's rights for her entire career and that's very important for me," said Cindy Kuhns, a Clinton supporter.

But, if the Lehigh Valley is a measure of Pennsylvania - it may help explain why, even with Obama's stumbles on the stump, Clinton's once enormous lead has dwindled.