Maps: 2014 Elections Breakdown

Note: The following article and maps was written and created by Gregory Naigles. You can check out the rest of his work at his website here.

To follow up on the maps that I made of the 2012 elections in Pennsylvania, I have made a series of similar maps – but this time for the 2014 elections.

I’ll begin with the top of the ticket: the 2014 gubernatorial election, where Tom Wolf (D) defeated Tom Corbett (R) by a 55-45 margin (click on the maps for a full-size view).

2014 Map 1

This next map compares the above gubernatorial election results to the 2012 presidential election results.

2014 Map 2

Wolf outperformed Obama by only 3 percentage points; getting 55 percent compared to Obama’s 52 percent. So why does the above map look like he outperformed Obama by a lot more than that? The major reason for this is that Wolf only barely outperformed Obama in many of the most populated areas of Pennsylvania, including both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In addition, those cities tended to have disproportionately large drops in turnout from 2012 to 2014, which blunted their impact on the 2014 results. Additionally, the areas where Wolf outperformed Obama by the widest margins are generally large in area but smaller in population.

But what patterns can be seen from this map? Wolf outperformed Obama heavily in some of the more rural areas of Pennsylvania, including the counties of Greene, Fayette, Somerset, Cambria, Northumberland, and Schuylkill. These areas have large numbers of working-class voters and economies that rely on coal mining (both anthracite and bituminous). The coal mining industry has been hit hard by the rise of fracking, so Wolf’s proposal to tax fracking undoubtedly played well in those areas. Of course, that same proposal was much less popular in areas where fracking provides lots of jobs, namely the northeastern Pennsylvania counties of Bradford and Susquehanna. Those are some of the areas where Wolf underperformed Obama.

In addition to the coal mining areas, Wolf also heavily outperformed Obama in the vicinity of Penn State University and the town of State College. This is due to the fact that Tom Corbett was extremely unpopular there due to his actions regarding the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal. The fact that Wolf won Centre County (home to Penn State) by a 15-point margin despite very low turnout in the Democratic stronghold of State College is an incredible feat, and one that is very unlikely to be repeated anytime soon.

Finally, the map also shows pretty clearly where some of the most inelastic, straight-ticket voters in Pennsylvania are. Places like Lancaster County, the Harrisburg area, and some of the Philly suburbs saw Wolf only slightly outperform Obama, since most of the voters in those places tend to vote for the same party for every office (while the areas where Wolf outperformed Obama by larger margins tend to have more ticket-splitting in general). Wolf also failed to outperform Obama in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, where Corbett is from.

This next map shows the results of the 2014 Congressional elections in Pennsylvania, by precinct.

2014 Map 3

A few things to mention before I present the next map: three incumbents, Mike Doyle, Charlie Dent, and Tim Murphy, were unopposed in 2014. That is why every precinct in their districts is either dark blue (Doyle) or dark red (Murphy and Dent). In addition, Tom Marino’s district featured an independent candidate who received over 10 percent of the vote, which is why there are a bunch of precincts colored yellow in his district.

2014 Map 4

This map compares the performances of the 2012 and 2014 Democratic congressional candidates in each district. A few patterns of note:

1. Without Mark Critz as an opponent, Keith Rothfus substantially improved on his performance almost everywhere in his district, but particularly in the Johnstown area.

2. The Democratic challengers to Tom Marino, Lou Barletta, Scott Perry, and Mike Fitzpatrick all substantially underperformed the Democrats’ 2012 numbers.

3. Matt Cartwright substantially underperformed his 2012 performance in Schuylkill County (due to the fact that his 2014 opponent was from there, and his 2012 opponent was not), but he actually outperformed his already very strong numbers in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, possibly for the same reason.

4. Joe Pitts’ Democratic challenger, Tom Houghton, did significantly better in Lancaster County than Pitts’ 2012 challenger. This is likely because Houghton is a former state representative, while Pitts’ 2012 challenger was a political neophyte.

5. Manan Trivedi slightly outperformed his 2012 numbers in 2014, due to the fact that the district was an open seat in 2014. He didn’t come close to winning, though.

6. If you look closely at the Philadelphia area, you’ll see that Brendan Boyle generally outperformed Allyson Schwartz in Philadelphia, while underperforming her in the Montgomery County portion of the district. This makes sense, since Boyle is from Philadelphia, while the three candidates he defeated in the Democratic primary were all from the suburbs.

This next map compares the 2014 Congressional election results to the gubernatorial results.

2014 Map 5

This map isn’t particularly interesting, considering that Wolf substantially outperformed the Democratic congressional candidates almost everywhere. However, the areas where the Democratic congressional candidate did better than normal (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Lancaster County) or that have few swing voters (Franklin County) definitely stand out.

We now move on to the 2014 State Senate elections. Only half of Pennsylvania’s state senate districts had elections in 2014, which is why half of the map is white.

2014 Map 6

As the map shows, there weren’t very many competitive elections. Most of the districts that had elections saw either unopposed incumbents or one party winning in a landslide. The closest election here was the 26th district in Delaware County, an open seat, where Republican Tom McGarrigle scored big wins in Springfield, Marple, and Newtown, which were enough to overcome losses in Upper Darby and win by a 52-48 margin.

This next map compares the state senate results mapped above to the 2014 gubernatorial election results:

2014 Map 7

As the map shows, Wolf didn’t just outperform almost all of the Democratic congressional candidates, he also outperformed almost all of the Democratic state senate candidates who weren’t running unopposed. In fact, the only Democratic state senate candidate who outperformed Wolf in large areas of their district (and who didn’t run unopposed) was John Blake, of Lackawanna County, who outperformed Wolf in a bunch of towns north of Scranton (including his hometown of Archbald, where he scored an amazing 89 percent of the vote).

The final two maps here involve the state House results, which were a bit more interesting.

2014 Map 8

As the map shows, a large number of candidates on both sides ran unopposed, but there were some very interesting patterns, as the next map will make clear. This final map compares Wolf’s performance to that of the Democratic state House candidates.

2014 Map 9

Unlike in the state senate elections, a significant number of Democratic state House candidates (who weren’t unopposed) outperformed Wolf. Some of the Democratic incumbents who outperformed Wolf included Chris Sainato, Joe Petrarca, Peter Daley, Joe Markosek, Frank Burns, Ryan Bizzarro, and Steve Santarsiero. However, there were also several unsuccessful Democratic challengers (or Democratic incumbents who lost re-election) who still outperformed Wolf. Both Mike Fleck of Huntingdon and Rick Mirabito of Lycoming outperformed Wolf while losing. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County substantially underperformed, allowing his Democratic opponent to outperform Wolf.

I hope you enjoyed the maps! Questions and comments can be directed to ghnaigles@gmail.com. And don’t forget to check out my 2012 precinct maps of Pennsylvania.

March 8th, 2016 | Posted in Congress, Features, Front Page Stories, Governor, Guest Commentary, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Maps: 2014 Elections Breakdown”

  1. jjcnpa says:

    You certainly see the Paterno effect comparing Wolf’s performance vs Obama in the whole center (republican) part of PA. Wolf carried PA even taking out all the votes from the city of Philadelphia. That isn’t easy to do for a Dem.

  2. Observer says:

    This map represents gerrymandering at its finest. Also the SDCC and HDCC have had poor leadership and failure after failure. They bring a knife to a gun fight.

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