Close this search box.

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.

Every week PoliticsPA sends an exclusive extra Up or Down to Playbook subscribers. See who gets the extra up or down next week: sign up here.

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. 


8 Responses

  1. When will the R’s learn that ousting Cartwright is an illusion that they chase at their own peril?

  2. No doubt Pa has a lot of red counties and patches of blue which sets the table nicely for 2022 Gov race. It seems a progressive could get a Dem Gov nomination in Pa but would be running the gauntlet winning in November. Trump botches handling covid and he almost wins Pa??? It is astounding! Does anyone really think this is a good sign for a progressive in Pa in 2022? Pa is not as red as Ohio but it is a centrist state like Wisconsin. A centrist Dem would be a better fit for Gov.

    1. Trump’s pandemic management is a plus for clingers, who prefer superstition to science and reason; belligerent ignorance to “elite” opinion and credentials; and lethal recklessness to responsible conduct.

      Pennsylvania has plenty of can’t-keep-up backwaters — literally Appalachia — but that problem will continue to ease as those desolate rural areas continue to empty. Bright flight removes all of the smart, ambitious people at high school graduation, never to return. The lack of economic opportunity eventually bleeds out even those who were content to stick with declining towns and dying industries against all evidence.

  3. Bognet was such a bad candidate that it is astounding he got as many votes that he did. He ran a gimmick campaign and tossed around buzz words like “Socialist” and “defund the police” neither of which Cartwright supported or had been. Yet, Bognet ran close. Then all he had to say about healthcare was (of course, another buzz word) he supports healthcare for people with “preconditions”. Something is going on with the voters that a candidacy like this one has been given serious support. Cartwright’s vote came when the tally of mail ins occurred which is not surprising since R’s did as they were told by Trump and voted in person on Election Day. Accordingly, in Pa, mainly Dems used mail-in. Cartwright legitimately got significant support and kudos to him.

  4. DOWN ARROW (LOSERS): PA citizens still shackled by GOP legislature. But I guess you get what you deserve. Suffer stupid voters of PA. Too bad the rest of us have to suffer with you.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

    Loading ... Loading ...
Continue to Browser


To install tap and choose
Add to Home Screen