PA Dems Hope to Reverse History in 2014 Guv Race

Tom Corbett portrait loresPennsylvanians have elected a governor of the party of the sitting president in only 1 of the last 19 contests dating back to 1938; Democrats are 1-16 since 1860 with a Democrat in the White House

This is the second in a series of reports on the 2014 gubernatorial elections in purple states and how the presence of Barack Obama in the White House may loom over these top of the ticket statewide races. (The first report featured Scott Walker’s reelection bid in Wisconsin).

With approval ratings well under water, Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett has not only been a top target for Democrats in the 2014 cycle, but has also been feeling the pressure from some in his own party to bow out of the race.

Smelling blood, Democrats are flocking to join the field, led by U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz and a bevy of current and former legislators and executive officials.

But while the numbers may look grim for Corbett and the GOP, it seems the political environment in D.C. may yet give them hope for 2014.

A Smart Politics review of Pennsylvania election data finds that the state has voted against the party of the sitting president in 18 of the last 19 gubernatorial contests dating back to 1938.

Keystone State gubernatorial voters have not elected a candidate from the party of the sitting president since Dick Thornburgh eked out a 2.7-point reelection victory over Allen Ertel in 1982.

Since then Pennsylvanians have chosen nominees of the opposing party of the White House in seven consecutive cycles with Democrat Bob Casey (Reagan, G.H.W. Bush), Republican Tom Ridge (Clinton twice), Democrat Ed Rendell (G.W. Bush twice), and Corbett (Obama).

Prior to Thornburgh’s win in 1982, Pennsylvania rattled off a 44-year, 11-cycle streak of electing governors who did not share the partisan affiliation of the president going back to the Election of 1938.

Delving further into history, Pennsylvania Democrats have been particularly ineffective in translating presidential political currency into gubernatorial victories.

Since 1860, with the Keystone State’s own James Buchanan in office, Democrats have lost 16 of 17 Pennsylvania gubernatorial races with a sitting Democratic President in the White House.

The only Democrat to prevail under such circumstances was George Earle in 1934.

Earle, former U.S. Minister to Austria, was elected by 2.3 points over Republican William Schnader in the middle of Franklin Roosevelt’s first term.

Democrats failed to win gubernatorial elections in Pennsylvania during the administrations of Democratic presidents in 1860, 1866, 1886, 1894, 1914, 1918, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1994, 1998, and 2010.

Put another way, Republicans are 16-1 since 1860 in sending a victorious nominee to Harrisburg when a Democrat serves in the White House.

(The GOP is 11-11 in gubernatorial races with a Republican in the White House during these 150 years and just 1-8 since 1932).

This presidential curse over the last 75 years is a bit curious considering Pennsylvanians have served up a bounty of competitive gubernatorial and presidential races that could have gone either way: 13 of 19 gubernatorial contests have been decided by single digits during this span along with 15 of the last 19 presidential races.

And so, while Corbett may have dug himself quite a hole with 2014 around the corner, if he (or whomever wins the GOP nomination) makes the race close, it appears, at the margins Pennsylvania voters tend not to reward the president when voting for governor – even a president for whom they voted.

Smart Politics PA Governor


Smart Politics is a non-partisan political news site authored and founded in 2006 by Dr. Eric Ostermeier, a Research Associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance (CSPG) at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. If you have any questions about Smart Politics please contact the author.

Originally posted here. Republished with permission.

August 26th, 2013 | Posted in Features, Front Page Stories, Governor, Guest Commentary, Top Stories | 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “PA Dems Hope to Reverse History in 2014 Guv Race”

  1. PAINDY1 says:

    Dear Jon Delano of KDKA-TV PIttsburgh: Who is going to investigate the rumored John Brabender contract with Highmark to produce those political-style attack ads? Mr. Delano, Isn’t it time for Gromis-Baker to go? PUT AN END TO POLITICAL NECROPHILIA IN PENNSYLVANIA!

  2. SOUL-MLK-2014 says:

    BROTHERS AND SISTERS: To commemorate Dr. King’s great speech tomorrow, let’s march to PAGOP headquarter at 112 State Street and sing LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING, while ringing tiny bells as a symbol of our liberty. Mr. Rob Gleason, you can’t disenfranchise us. We’re coming. We are not going to allow you to turn back 50 years of history.

  3. PAINDY1 says:

    Dear Democratic Insurance Chair Tony DeLuca: Why not hold hearings on Political Necrophiliia in the Corbett Adminstration and the Insurance Wars? Wouldn’t it be enlightening to find what BEDROOM talk Gromis-Baker and her husband have about acting Governor John Brabender’s bank account? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn how the Dark Prince Brabender actually won His rumored Highmark attack ad account? Wouldn’t it be informative for taxpayers to hear how Gromis Baker was awarded this COS job when she seems to be so conflicted in such an important public issue as Health Care? Maybe you should even call Corbett to testify-if there is a pulse left. By the way, I oppose poltical necrophilia.

  4. PAINDY1 says:

    I think the new “inclusive PAGOP” of Race Hustler Rob Gleason is going to save the day. What I imagine is that 112 State Street will have a shoe-shine boy and a Maid like one out of Paula Deen Antebellum weddings but a celebraton of DIXIE that never stops.

  5. Sean says:

    Guys, I know it’s a slow season but short of using astrological signs to predict next year, could anything be less serious?

  6. The Lizard says:

    Yeah, yeah . . . and until last year, Pennsylvania had NEVER elected a woman as attorney general. Corbett better be looking for better news than this.

Comments are closed.