A Shadow Sighting by Phil Could Portend Big Things for GOP

Wednesday is Groundhog Day – an official holiday in Punxsutawney and an unofficial one around the Commonwealth.

Groundhog Day remains what it was when the tradition first came to our shores and found its way to Punxsutawney. A day to take everything a little less seriously and break up the winter monotony… at least for a little while!

Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous of the groundhogs around Pennsylvania and has seen his shadow and predicted an early spring 20 times since 1886 – about eight (8) percent of the time.

When it comes to the weather, Phil may not be the best long-range prognosticator. How do his calls look when it comes to PA politics over the past 50 years?

Over the last seven cycles that Pennsylvania has elected both a governor and a U.S. senator, Phil has seen his shadow six times on February 2, announcing to the world that six more weeks of winter awaits.

In those six years, Republicans have swept the governor and senate seats four times (1982-94-98-2010), including a Tom Corbett/Pat Toomey sweep in 2010. Democrats have turned the trick twice with both wins coming in the last 16 years. Ed Rendell and Bob Casey picked up win No. 1 in 2006, while Casey and Tom Wolf took two in 2018.

The only time in the last 50 years that the seats were split was in 1974 when Milton Shapp captured the governor’s mansion and Richard Schweiker was re-elected to the Senate.

What happens during cycles when only one seat is open and Phil does not see his shadow and spring is right around the corner? Senate seats tend to go to the GOP, winning three times (1986-88-2016), while the governor’s chair has gone to the Democrats in that lone year (1990).

Phil’s Record

Year Prediction Governor Senate

2022 ?? ?? ??

2020 No N/A N/A

2018 Yes Wolf (D) Casey (D)

2016 No N/A Toomey (R)

2014 Yes Wolf (D) N/A

2012 Yes N/A Casey (D)

2010 Yes Corbett (R) Toomey (R)

2008 Yes N/A N/A

2006 Yes Rendell (D) Casey (D)

2004 Yes Specter (R) 

2002 Yes Rendell (D) N/A

2000 Yes Santorum (R) 

1998 Yes Ridge (R) Specter (R)

1996 Yes N/A N/A

1994 Yes Ridge (R) Santorum (R) 

1992 Yes Specter (R) 

1990 No Casey (D) N/A

1988 No Heinz (R)

1986 No Thornburgh (R) Specter (R)

1984 Yes N/A N/A

1982 Yes Thornburgh (R) Heinz (R)

1980 Yes Schweiker

1978 Yes Shapp (D) N/A

1976 Yes N/A Scott

1974 Yes Shapp (D) Schweiker (R)

1972 Yes N/A Scott

1970 No Shafer (R) N/A

Yes: saw shadow

No: did not see shadow

3 Responses

  1. I guess this kind of incisive reporting on the implications of a rodent coming up for air is the kind of new, improved product you promised your readers what, a whole week ago?

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