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Casey, Wolf and the 2018 Maps

wolf-caseyIn politics, timing is destiny.

Two years from now, in November 2018, Bob Casey and Tom Wolf will be seeking their third and second terms respectively.

These contests don’t take place in a vacuum, however, and depend greatly on the national landscape. After all, political organizations and fundraisers have to make decisions about resource allocation.

This is where Tom Wolf has the advantage and Bob Casey the disadvantage as the Gubernatorial and Senate maps look drastically different.

This is the Senate map:


This is the Governor’s map:


Why the stark difference? Simple, Senate terms last six years and Gubernatorial terms (usually) last four years. 2006 and 2012 were great cycles for the Democrats while 2010 and 2014 were fantastic for the GOP.

As a result, Democrats will have to defend 23 Senate seats while Republicans are protecting just 8. Meanwhile, the GOP is defending 26 Governorships compared to just 9 for Democrats (Alaska has an independent incumbent).

Furthermore, midterm elections are almost always terrible for the President’s party. With Trump’s favorable ratings still underwater during his honeymoon period, it’s not a huge leap to guess that he may not be too popular two years from now.

If Republicans are fighting a blue wave, they’re more likely to put their money and effort into keeping the Senate (and House) while letting Governors largely fend for themselves.

So while on paper Wolf is the only Democratic Governor in a state Trump won, his race may get lost in the shuffle. Incumbents also tend to have a natural advantage which may scare off support for his opponent. Speaking of which, the GOP has to defend open seats in critical states like Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin. That will definitely serve as a useful distraction.

Finally, Sen. Casey may actually benefit from the fact that so many Democratic seats are up for grabs. Sure he’s now in red territory but states like Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia are such easier targets.

It may ultimately be the national mood, not the national map, which decides the fates of the 2018 candidates.

30 Responses

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  5. Good analysis. Political junkies may think Pa Gov race vital on the national scene but it easily could get lost in the mix. Who knows what antics Trump may be up to in the next year or two as well the impact of other nationa/state races? It’s very likely Wolf returns, plus, Wagner is not at all interesting as Gov candidate.

  6. I just have one question—Does anyone understand a word Joe DeFelice speaks?? I mean—he slurs so much he makes Bob Dylan look like Jim Gardner. Less coke…more Pepsi.

  7. Wolf forced ex-employees on the state Party. Sin and Cordy have no clue what a state party is. Mary still Rules the party. State dimes spent on tax backs.
    Demand knowledge of wage paid to these staffers.

  8. The state party is handcuffed by Wolfie and his Pack. ED and Philly office staff is total waste of space.
    Wagner is having Mary Sin Obie followed politics on state time.
    Check their arrest records and see the special gifts from Wolf. Wolf Governor: their records disappear.
    Special gifts on plane and car service for Party staff. On Tax dine.
    Wolf hates Hates HATES the Democrat party. Lost the endorsement: get even for ever. Ask state Reps about Wolfie and his pack get even tricks.

  9. You can’t beat somebody with nobody. The Rs don’t have any strong candidates to run against Casey. Casey’s only concern is a primary fight which he would easily win.

  10. Senator Casey’s biggest problem is from the left wing of his own party. If no one from the left runs against him in the 2018 Democratic Primary, he should be able to retain his seat if he runs the same type of independent voice for Pennsylvania campaign that Toomey ran this cycle. The whole is going to cost a lot of money.

  11. The map that will matter is the one Trump put into play in PA this election cycle.

    Trump showed you don’t have to worry as much about the large wins Democratic candidates can build in Philly and its collar counties. And in midterm elections, you don’t get nearly the Democratic turnout one gets during presidential elections.

    The key is finding candidates that can tap into the same support Trump received.

    Two years from now, that might not be too hard for someone like Sen. Scott Wagner, who has been likened to Trump by some pundits. And if Democrats in the U.S. Senate are standing in the way of Trump policies that have the support of those who elected Trump, that might be enough to get his supporters behind a GOP candidate challenging Casey.

  12. I think that you miss the point that was being made about the Political Director. He comes from a sales/marketing background and brings that approach. In short, he us all about optics and the “Big Picture”. The fact that he spent his time going to events was because that was what he wanted to do and knew how to do. In short, he was no different than the HDCC, HDSC or other state committee staff in that, even if afforded the time and resources, it never would’ve occurred to him to actually do the hard anonymous work of analysis and targeting specific races, nor would he have known how to do so. It was always about personal visibility and attention. As such, he shares equally in responsibility for the debacle. Given the results of the recent elections, the only logical course is to start by cleaning out the whole rotten structure from top to bottom and start from scratch. No exceptions.

  13. Plubius-

    While I agree that the “Vote Local” slogan was insipid, my impression was that the Political Director didn’t get the support/resources he needed due to the complete failure/incompetence of the HDCC and SDCC for those “local” elections.

    If they had him going out and doing all the grunt work, then they completely mismanaged his time. Instead, they should have given him a proper staff to do real organizing work, so he could devote his time to analyzing and targeting. Basically, he was too busy running around to accomplish the proper goals.

  14. I actually think the opposite will be true. With the General Assembly now strongly Republican and Governor Wolf not all that popular, the GOP in this state should focus its resources toward unseating Wolf. Glass jaw or not, unseating Casey will be a much heavier lift. The 2018 Senate map strongly favors Republicans, and it is easy to see them picking up states like North Dakota and Montana with little to no effort. However, an incumbent in what has been a traditionally blue state with the last name Casey is a much different animal. You can’t beat something with nothing, and what grade-A Republican in this state will be willing to take the plunge against Casey? Especially if the NRSC focuses its resources elsewhere in more promising states?

    That is why it makes sense for the GOP to focus on Wolf. Beat him and the Republicans will hold the trifecta here – state House, Senate, and governors mansion. I think they have a decent shot at doing this even if the national headwinds are blowing against Trump in two years.

  15. And meanwhile, the PA Republicans’ strongest candidate is running around talking on camera about how much he and Trump are alike. Those ads are going to write themselves.

  16. Do not fool yourself. The Political Director is as clueless and incompetent as anyone else on the State party staff. The only reason that he is known to committee members is that he is the face that they saw. He spent his time going to committee events, saying “Vote Local” and posting pictures of himself on FB. In essence preaching to people who were already backing Democratic candidates. OK optics, but nor very effective when you actually need to drill down and do the hard work, county by county, district by district, precinct by precinct. Truth be told, he spent no time worrying about which races needed to be targeted with resources and would not have known what to do if he had done that analysis. The fact that he may be respected by committee members only speaks to how low the bar really is.

  17. It’s incompetency at the top of the party staff, but it’s also the ineptitude of current county organization leadership.

  18. When you have an Democrat Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director who don’t know how to run a party, let alone a campaign, both are bound to lose. I understand from State Committee Members that the Political Director knows more about the party and has the respect of the members. Most of the members have no idea who the ED is.

  19. Agreed but Republicans can’t win Senate seat without a good candidate. No one obviously out there..

  20. Bobby has a glass jaw. A good right hook and he’s done. There are a couple of right hooks in their corner’s waiting for the bell to ring.
    This will be a knockout not a decision and easier than many think.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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