Here's why Democrats have a path to victory in one of the GOP's most gerrymandered legislatures
Daily Kos Elections is out with new data for Pennsylvania, which was crunched for us by elections analyst Bill Coningsby, of the 2018 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate results by state Senate, state House, and congressional district.
We'll start with a look at the state House, which Republicans flipped in 2010 and have held ever since in large part thanks to an aggressive gerrymander. Republicans currently enjoy a 110-93 edge (Daily Kos Elections assigns any vacant seats to the party that last held them), so Democrats need to net nine seats this year in order to win their first majority in a decade. Members serve two-year terms, and every seat is up this fall.
Back in 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 48-47 statewide and took 119 of the 203 districts. Two years later, though, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey was re-elected 56-43 against Republican Lou Barletta and carried all 83 of the Clinton seats and an additional 36. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who won 58-41 against Republican Scott Wagner in 2018, took a total of 132 House districts, including each of the Clinton/Casey constituencies.
There are six House Republicans in Clinton/Casey/Wolf districts. An additional 25 Republicans represent Trump/Casey/Wolf seats, while 10 more hold Trump/Barletta/Wagner districts. Altogether, there are 41 Republicans in seats that backed at least Wolf, which could give Democrats plenty of targets in a strong year.
On the other side, 10 Democrats serve in Trump/Casey/Wolf seats. Another three hold Trump/Barletta/Wolf constituencies, while two are in Trump/Barletta/Wagner districts.
We’ll turn now to the Senate, where half of the 50 seats are up in presidential cycles and the rest are on the ballot in midterm years. The Republicans have held the chamber since the 1994 elections, and they got some very welcome news last year when state Sen. John Yudichak announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party and would instead caucus with the GOP as an independent.
The GOP coalition now holds 29 seats, while Democrats control the remaining 21. If Team Blue can net four districts this fall, then Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman would be able to break ties in favor of his party.
Clinton won 23 seats in 2016, while Casey and Wolf carried 31 and 34, respectively. Just like in the House, Casey won all the Clinton districts, while Wolf in turn took all of Casey’s seats.
Of the 25 seats that will be on the November ballot, 15 are held by Republicans and the remaining 10 are in Democrat hands. (Yudichak is not up again until 2022.) Two of these Republicans hold Clinton/Casey/Wolf seats, another two are in Trump/Casey/Wolf districts, while an additional pair represent Trump/Barletta/Wolf constituencies.
Two Democrats, meanwhile, are defending Trump/Casey/Wolf seats this fall, while the party’s other eight seats each backed Clinton, Casey, and Wolf. One of that pair of Democrats is Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, who faces no GOP opposition. The other is state Sen. Pam Iovino, who flipped her seat 52-48 in a competitive special election that took place last year.
Finally, we’ll take a quick look at the 2018 gubernatorial and Senate elections for the state’s 18 congressional districts. Casey took Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s 1st District and Republican Rep. Scott Perry’s 10th District, which are both major Democratic targets this fall, as well as the nine Democratic-held seats. Wolf won all those plus Republican Rep. Mike Kelly’s 16th District, which so far hasn’t attracted too much national attention.
P.S. You can find our master list of statewide election results by congressional and legislative district here, which we'll be updating as we add new states. Additionally, you can find all our data from 2018 and past cycles here.