Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania vote’

GOP: A Pennsylvania problem

Posted: November 22, 2022 by chrisharper in politics
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By Christopher Harper

Winning Pennsylvania in the 2024 election may be extremely difficult for any Republican candidate.

The headlines of this November election focused on the losses by two Trump-backed candidates in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

But the Republican losses go much deeper than that.

In the useless arena of conventional wisdom and polls, the so-called experts predicted that the GOP would win 10 of 16 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, with one seat a tossup. The actual outcome pushed the House delegation to the Democrats, with a 9-8 margin.

But the big story buried in the mass of election analytical outkill was the potential loss of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to the Democrats, who picked up 12 seats from the last election and haven’t held control of the legislative body since 2010.

Because of a death and a few governmental changes, the House hasn’t officially changed hands, although it’s likely to do so when the dust settles.

There’s mostly bad news when you dig into the voters themselves. The Black and Latino communities weren’t particularly interested in the nonpresidential election, with Philadelphia voters staying away from the polls in hordes.

A Philadelphia Inquirer analysis found the following:

–Philly’s vote count dropped 33% from 2020, more than any other county and the statewide average of 22%.

–It’s not just a 2020 comparison: This year saw a stark divergence between Philly turnout and the rest of the state compared to every federal election since at least 2000.

–Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, has about 133,000 fewer voters than Philly — but cast about 67,000 more ballots this election.

–Philadelphia’s share of the state’s total Democratic vote has dropped from 20% in 2016 to 15% this year.

These results demonstrate that Philadelphia may have less clout than Pittsburgh in the foreseeable future.

More important for Republicans, however, is that many traditional Democrats didn’t participate in the 2022 election, and the Dems still won big.

Moreover, the expected Latino surge for the GOP didn’t happen in Pennsylvania, as traditional Hispanic locales saw a drop in voting turnout. The steepest dives were in heavily Latino cities such as Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Reading, and Allentown, which all saw turnout drop even more than Philadelphia.

Some community leaders said the turnout in Latino communities shows a failure of candidates and both parties to connect with long-neglected voters.

“There’s lots of things to say about how ignored Latinos feel by the electoral system,” said Erika Almirón, a senior organizer with Mijente, a national Latino social justice group that works in Philadelphia. “And it manifests by not wanting to participate, and so if we want those numbers to improve, candidates have to knock on doors, we need resources.”

Simply put, the GOP has two years to turn it around in Pennsylvania.

By Christopher Harper

Donald Trump had a lousy night in Pennsylvania.

Two top candidates he endorsed—Mehmet Oz for U.S. Senate and Doug Mastriano for governor—went down in flames in a state critical for any presidential candidate.

In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania and its electoral votes by a hair. In 2020, Biden won.

What’s discouraging about the election is how mediocre the Democrat candidates were.

John Fetterman makes Bernie Sanders look like a right-winger. He served as a mayor in a small town near Pittsburgh and somehow became lieutenant governor. He suffered a stroke earlier this year and has had problems understanding questions and providing answers.

Still, he beat TV personality Oz by more than 100,000 votes in a 50-48 percent vote. Oz wasn’t a great campaigner, but he talked an excellent conservative line.

In the governor’s race, Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, won handily despite Mastriano being a true conservative and solid Trump supporter.

Shapiro won by more than 600,000 votes in a 55-43 percent landside.

Fetterman and Shapiro outpolled Biden’s 2020 results in both races, particularly in the crucial suburbs around Philadelphia.

With party hack Bob Casey not up for reelection until 2024, the Democrats hold all the top positions in Pennsylvania for the first time in decades. Moreover, the U.S. House contingent will likely favor the Democrats, 9-8.

Fortunately, the Republicans will hold onto both houses of the state legislature. Unfortunately, the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to override vetoes.

The Pennsylvania results are worth dissecting because the state mirrors almost every aspect of the national electorate. Two major cities—Pittsburgh and Philadelphia—vote primarily Democrat, with a sprinkling of other outposts in the state. Almost every county, including mine, votes heavily Republican between the two coasts.

Alas, the votes in Pennsylvania flyover country weren’t enough to counter those in the cities.

Republicans have some significant issues ahead if they couldn’t break through in places where inflation, crime, and COVID chaos have dominated the conversation over the past few months.

The GOP and Pennsylvania

Posted: October 4, 2022 by chrisharper in Uncategorized

By Christopher Harper

As the country slouches toward the midterm elections, Pennsylvania provides a microcosm of the battle between Democrats and Republicans.

In 2016, the state put Donald Trump over the top by less than 1 percent of the vote. In 2020, Joe Biden got slightly more than 1 percent of the total.

Down the line, the Keystone State mirrors almost every demographic of the nation from ethnic makeup to average income to the severity of poverty.

On the West Coast sits the Democrat stronghold of Pittsburgh. On the East Coast stands Philadelphia, another Democrat hovel. In between, where I live after 17 years in Philly, the flyover country of Pennsylvania votes almost entirely Republican down the ticket.

In the U.S. Senate race, Mehmet Oz has pulled almost even with John Fetterman. Oz takes conservative stands and has Trump’s backing, while Fetterman ranks to the left of Bernie Sanders and George Soros. Oz isn’t a great campaigner, which is why he isn’t running away with the race.

But one of the main reasons Oz has been gaining ground is that Fetterman had a stroke earlier this year and hasn’t convinced many people, including the media, that he can handle the pressure of the U.S. Senate.

Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is a stout Trump supporter, but the media have portrayed him as too conservative. Unfortunately, that caricature has left him far behind.

As Common Sense put it recently: “The Democrat is covered in tattoos, favors hoodies, and just had a stroke. Will Pennsylvania send the anti-politician to the Senate?”

Josh Shapiro, an unaccomplished liberal, is likely to follow in the footsteps of our state dictator, Tom Wolf, whose COVID clampdown made him all-powerful for much of the past two-plus years.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Senate and House will remain solidly in Republican hands, although the all-Democrat delegations from Pittsburgh and Philly prevent the GOP from overriding vetoes by the governor. The Republicans are pushing for the ability to override executive orders, such as those during COVID, with a majority vote, but legal requirements have prevented such a move until next year.

Also, according to most polls, the U.S. House of Representatives delegation—now nine Republicans and nine Democrats—is likely to add two Republicans into the mix.

Apart from the governor’s race, Pennsylvania looks good for the GOP—perhaps a positive omen for 2024.

A Black woman for the GOP

Posted: May 17, 2022 by chrisharper in politics
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By Christopher Harper

Today’s GOP primary here in Pennsylvania, particularly in the U.S. Senate race, underlines the unpredictability of the state’s Republican Party.

Seven candidates are vying for the ability to replace Pat Toomey, a significant disappointment for many Republicans.

David McCormick, a former hedge-fund executive, has millions of dollars to spend, but his close ties to China make him unpalatable even though he has been at or near the top of the polls. Moreover, his connections are mainly to New Jersey rather than Pennsylvania.

Mehmet Oz, a surgeon and a television talk show host, has the support of President Trump. But Oz’s past statements in support of abortion and other liberal issues have offended many conservatives in the state.

As a result, Kathy Barnette, a former soldier and Fox News analyst, has gained traction in recent weeks.

This trio stands atop the polls in what has become one of the most expensive and dirtiest campaigns in Pennsylvania’s history.

Barnette has been the recent target of such attacks, including her tweets about Islam and gays.

“My phone is blowing up with people who never call who are asking who they should vote for,” said Doug McLinko, a Bradford County commissioner and local Republican Party official in northern Pennsylvania.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, McLinko said he has rarely seen as much confusion and indecision among conservatives. “Spending all this money to attack each other isn’t helpful because it has confused the voters,” he said. “I’ve never seen such a mess.”

If successful, Barnette would be the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican. During the campaign, she has questioned the commitment of her better-funded rivals on abortion and other conservative causes.

 “I am the byproduct of a rape,” she said in one debate, as she criticized Oz for past support of abortion. “My mother was 11 years old when I was conceived. My father was 21. I was not just a lump of cells.”

Barnette said she was raised on a pig farm in Alabama that lacked running water.

In her book, Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: Being Black and Conservative in America, Barnette argues that liberal policies have failed the Black community. 

I think Republicans need someone different to set the party apart from the Democrats. A Black woman from a hardscrabble background might make a powerful candidate against the Democrats, who depend heavily on the Black communities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

Club for Growth Action, a conservative super PAC, has endorsed Barnette and placed an order for $2 million in advertising in support of her. Barnette, who lost a bid to join U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, also won the backing of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group.

Conventional wisdom argues that a Black female Republican will have difficulty beating the likely Democrat John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor. But Fetterman suffered a stroke over the weekend and may not be as formidable as many experts think. 

I don’t think conventional wisdom and experts work much anymore. As a result, I plan to vote for Barnette. I think she might be just the right candidate to keep the seat in Republican hands.