Pennsylvania swing voters aren’t necessarily in a hurry to vote Republican this year: report

Pennsylvania swing voters aren’t necessarily in a hurry to vote Republican this year: report
Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2015, Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania will be one of the most closely watched swing states in the 2022 midterms, from its governor’s race to its U.S. Senate race to an abundance of U.S. House races.

Democratic strategists, seeing President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings, are worried about Pennsylvania — one of the states that Donald Trump won in 2016’s presidential election and lost in 2020. But according to political researchers Rich Thau and Matt Steffee, swing voters in the Keystone State aren’t necessarily in a hurry to vote GOP in 2022 — at least if an online focus group they conducted is any indication.

The researchers describe their online focus group in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on April 22. Thau is the president of the research firm Engagious, while Steffee is Engagious’ vice president of research services.

“Recently, we sat down over Zoom with a group of Pennsylvania swing voters to talk about the midterm elections,” Thau and Steffee explain. “We were surprised to hear them reject the conventional wisdom that persuadable voters such as themselves will vote for Republican Senate candidates in November merely out of frustration with the Democrats’ inability to control inflation, crime, and various other problems.”

The researchers continue, “The voters we spoke with — six Republicans, four Democrats, and three independents — are frustrated, but they also worry that the ‘cure’ of returning Republicans to power might be worse than the ‘disease’ of Democratic control. The conventional wisdom is that 2022 is shaping up to be a wave election for Republicans, but only one of our respondents personified this view.”

That respondent was a 40-year-old man from David, who is from Phoenixville, a Philadelphia suburb.

David complained, “Biden has done a horrible job. Crime is up everywhere…. It’s all the Democrat-run cities. Inflation is at a 40-year high. I don’t see any solutions coming out. I think maybe we need to have Republicans controlling the House and the Senate to provide good checks and balances for Biden.”

But Thau and Steffee note that the 12 other participants “didn’t view the midterms as a referendum on Democrats.”

“Instead,” the researchers write, “they were focused on the qualities of the individual candidates, rather than punishing or embracing one party over the other…. Eight of the 13 were apprehensive about giving control of the House and/or Senate to Republicans, citing the acrimonious relationship between Republicans and Democrats in Washington — especially concerning social issues and voting rights.”

Stacy, a 37-year-old resident of Marcus Hook (another Philly suburb), commented, “To me, (Republicans in Congress) seem like babies and very, very petty…. I feel like we can never truly move forward because they block things just to block things. It’s never to understand the other opinion. It’s never to understand the other side. It’s merely because they don’t have control…. Giving them power would be just pointless, in my opinion.”

Forty-year-old Brian, who is from Washington Township, Pennsylvania, seems to be open to voting for some Republicans, but not if they are far-right Trumpistas.

“For me, it depends,” Brian commented. “Are they being backed by Trump? Are they big Trump fans? Are they preaching the election was stolen? All that jazz that I just can’t stomach…. I couldn’t fathom voting for a Republican that is pro-Trump, that might think like him, act like him. No way is that happening.”

Back in the late 1980s, Democratic strategist James Carville famously described Pennsylvania as Philly in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in between — and Pennsylvania is still a lot like that in 2022. Philadelphia is overwhelmingly Democratic; Pennsylvania’s largest city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the early 1950s, and Republicans have long been a minority on the Philadelphia City Council. But Central Pennsylvania is much more GOP-friendly.

In the past, the Philly suburbs of Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County and Delaware County were much more open to voting Republican than Philly Proper — although they tended to favor moderate conservatives such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and the late Sen. Arlen Specter.

Pennsylvania presently has a two-term Democratic governor, Tom Wolf (who is term-limited), and neither of its two U.S. senators is a progressive. Three-term Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. is a centrist Democrat, while Sen. Pat Toomey is a hard-right Republican. As conservative as Toomey is, Trumpistas consider him a RINO (Republican in Name Only). And he isn’t seeking reelection.

One of the Republicans competing in Pennsylvania’s GOP U.S. Senate primary is Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was more of a moderate conservative in the past but is campaigning on dumb MAGA ideas in 2022 — such as firing Dr. Anthony Fauci from the federal government.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022, abortion could be a prominent topic in Pennsylvania’s midterms races — and a liability for anti-choice Republicans among swing voters in the Philly suburbs.

The Thau/Steffee focus group showed how volatile Pennsylvania can be politically. Pennsylvania is neither a deep blue state like California or Massachusetts, nor a GOP stronghold like Idaho, Mississippi or South Carolina — although Carville was right when he said that rural parts of Central Pennsylvania vote like they were in Alabama.

Watch the video below:

Pennsylvania Trump-Biden Voters Talk Voting in Midterms, U.S. Senate Race www.youtube.com

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