2020 General Election Ups and Downs
Down ballot Dems come up short, history is made in the Auditor General’s race, plus congressional incumbents survive. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Election results keep finalizing, and there are few outstanding race calls. The following arrows deal with the conclusions we can already make. Next week’s Ups and Downs will be a continuation of races that are called in the meantime.
As of Friday, Nov. 6, here’s who has had a good election and who hasn’t in the Commonwealth.
Frank Dermody. Even if the House Democratic Minority Leader survives a reelection bid, (that he’s currently trailing) this was a devastating election for him and other state House Democrats. Entering election day, expectations were sky high with even the possibility of a majority on the table. As the dust settles one thing is already certain: Republicans will maintain their control in the House. They may even net a few seats. House leaders losing isn’t exactly novel in Pa., a la. Todd Eachus and John Perzel. But it’s something for a Dem leader to fall even as the Democratic presidential nominee is poised to carry the state is noteworthy. Even if Dermody survives, he’ll find his leadership under serious challenge. Some House Dems still murmur about Dermody’s support for the GOP reapportionment plan in 2011 and worry about a repeat in 2021.
Democrats. Forget about 2021 for a second. What a relief for the party. There’s dancing in the streets. After four years of hand-wringing and anxiety, Dems across Pa. will go to bed tonight knowing that Pa. flipped back to blue and sent native son Joe Biden to the White House and Donald Trump packing.
Down Ballot Republicans. Now back to 2021 (and 2022). Although Biden won Pa., Republicans didn’t drown in a blue wave. In fact the party is on track to gain seats. Democratic candidates largely whiffed in the suburbs despite Biden’s strong performance there. The GOP has already flipped one state Senate seat (SD-37) and has flipped two House seats thus far (HD-143 and HD-123, they lost HD-152). Trump’s loss increases the party’s odds for Governor and Senate in 2022. And if Stacy Garrity wins the Treasurer’s office, the party gains leverage in future budget fights with Gov. Wolf. For all the GOP’s wailing and gnashing of teeth about mail ballots, it looks like the deal they made in Act 77 — an end to straight ticket voting — paid off.
Tim DeFoor. A historic victory. The Dauphin County Controller won the race for Auditor General over Democrat Nina Ahmad. He is the first Republican to win this office since 1992. And notably, he is the first person of color to win a statewide row office in Pennsylvania.
Brian Fitzpatrick. Another election in Bucks County, another Fitzpatrick victory. A Republican incumbent winning a seat in the blue-trending Philly suburbs is impressive enough, but returns show just how massive of a victory it was. With over 98% of Bucks County votes in, Fitzpatrick is running about 22,000 votes ahead of Trump. Remember the primary? A pro-Trump challenger took 1 out of every 3 votes against Fitz. It’s pretty hard to make a case today that the GOP would be better off without Fitzpatrick’s moderate brand.
Matt Cartwright. On paper, the Lackawanna County Democrat’s seat was the best opportunity for Republicans to flip a seat in the commonwealth, but once again Cartwright prevailed. In boundaries that President Donald Trump nearly carried by 10 points in 2016 (although it is unclear what the margin will be in 2020), Cartwright bested GOP challenger Jim Bognet, a former Trump administration appointee, by at least 3 points.
Malcolm Kenyatta. The Philly state Rep was an early Biden backer and one of his most vocal supporters in the country. Kenyatta hit the campaign trail for Biden in several states during the primary and even featured in an online ad for the campaign. While progressives were lining up behind other presidential hopefuls, Kenyatta supported Biden. The VP gave him a personal shoutout on the eve of the election, and Biden is the type of pol who remembers his friends.
Congressional Incumbents. While 2018’s congressional election was filled with changes as the state’s delegation evened up at 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans (largely in part due to new boundaries), the 2020 congressional primaries provide no change in the delegation. Every incumbent, Democrat and Republican, sought reelection and won another term.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
wired: also me
25 hours in, we’re all getting a little punchy here in Pennsylvania. Luckily, democracy is worth the wait. pic.twitter.com/FTsPl1Tpub
— Bob Casey Jr. (@Bob_Casey) November 5, 2020