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Congressional Vulnerability Rankings

Pennsylvania is certain to be a pivotal state in this year’s presidential race, and it is playing host to a competitive Senate contest between Democratic incumbent Bob Casey and Republican challenger Dave McCormick. But the Keystone State is also poised to become a player in the race to control the narrowly divided U.S. House.

For the eighth election cycle dating back to 2010, PoliticsPA is publishing congressional vulnerability rankings for Pennsylvania’s delegation. This is our second handicapping of the 2024 Pennsylvania congressional races, and the first in about 10 months.

For the second straight edition, our highest category, “Highly Vulnerable,” doesn’t have any races in it. But the second-highest category, “Vulnerable,” has four – in order, Democratic Reps. Matt Cartwright, Susan Wild and Chris Deluzio and Republican Rep. Scott Perry.

The third-highest category, “Potentially Vulnerable,” includes one more seat, the one held by Republican Brian Fitzpatrick. The lowest category, “Minimally Vulnerable,” includes two others: Democratic Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Summer Lee.

The other 10 House seats in Pennsylvania are not currently vulnerable at all, though if that changes, we’ll reflect it in our next update. Overall, the Democrats currently hold a 9-8 edge in the congressional delegation.

Here’s our full rundown. Statistics are from the Almanac of American Politics 2024.

Highly Vulnerable

No races

 

Vulnerable

No. 1: 8th Congressional District 

Incumbent: Matt Cartwright (D)
Tenure: 6th term
Geography: Northeastern Pennsylvania: Primarily Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Monroe counties
2022 House result: Cartwright, 51%-49%
2020 presidential result: Trump, 51%-48%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): R+4
White: 75%
Black: 6%
Latino: 13%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 26%
Poverty rate: 13%

Cartwright ranked 2nd on our previous vulnerability list behind Democratic Rep. Susan Wild. But Democratic and Republican officials alike now view him as the most vulnerable incumbent in the delegation, albeit narrowly. Cartwright’s district is slightly less Democratic than Wild’s — Trump won it by three points – and the GOP has been gaining ground in this part of Pennsylvania during the Trump era.

Republicans and Democrats agree that the GOP challenger to Cartwright, construction CEO Rob Bresnahan, is a strong recruit and, as a political newcomer, doesn’t have a voting record that can be mined by the Cartwright campaign.

Cartwright has more than $3.1 million in the bank, but Bresnahan has a respectable $835,000.

 

No. 2: 7th Congressional District

Incumbent: Susan Wild (D)
Tenure: 3rd term
Geography: Lehigh Valley: Primarily Lehigh and Northampton counties
2022 House result: Wild, 51%-49%
2020 presidential result: Biden, 49.7%-49.1%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): R+2
White: 69%
Black: 5%
Latino: 19%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 30%
Poverty rate: 11%

Wild has won this swing district in three straight elections, but with declining percentages – 54%, 52% and most recently, 51%. This time, she will face six-term state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, who won a three-way GOP primary against National Guard veteran Kevin Dellicker and attorney Maria Montero.

Mackenzie previously worked on the 2004 reelection campaign of then-Sen. Pat Toomey, and as an official at both the U.S. and Pennsylvania labor departments. But he reports having substantially less in the bank – $126,000 – than Cartwright’s challenger, Bresnahan. That’s one reason why this seat seems slightly less likely to flip than it did last year.

 

No. 3: 17th Congressional District

Incumbent: Chris Deluzio (D)
Tenure: 1st term
Geography: Northern suburbs of Pittsburgh: Allegheny and Beaver counties
2022 House result: Deluzio, 53%-47%
2020 presidential result: Biden, 52%-46%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): Even
White: 82%
Black: 8%
Latino: 2%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 42%
Poverty rate: 8%

Deluzio won this swingy district by a six-point margin in 2022, holding it for the Democrats after Conor Lamb made an unsuccessful run for Senate. Republicans are happy with their nominee, veteran and state Rep. Rob Mercuri. Deluzio, with almost $1.5 million in the bank, leads Mercuri in the money chase, but the challenger has a decent $540,000 in the bank.

 

No. 4: 10th Congressional District

Incumbent: Scott Perry (R)
Tenure: 6th term
Geography: Harrisburg and environs: Dauphin, Cumberland, and York counties
2022 House result: Perry, 54%-46%
2020 presidential result: Trump, 51%-47%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): R+5
White: 71%
Black: 10%
Latino: 9%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 32%
Poverty rate: 10%

In this ranking, Perry moves up from 5th place to 4th, and from Potentially Vulnerable to Vulnerable. While he occupies a Republican district, the region is trending purple, and Perry’s hard-right politics have made him vulnerable. He chaired the hardline House Freedom Caucus and was investigated by the FBI for involvement in the effort by then-President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Democrats appear to have found a strong challenger in Janelle Stelson, who is well known in the district from her long tenure as a news anchor with WGAL-TV. After winning a six-way primary, Stelson is targeting crossover voters by pitching herself as a moderate. (She was a Republican until last year.) An internal poll for Stelson’s campaign found that she was within the margin of error against Perry. 

Republicans believe that Perry’s ability to win in 2022 despite the weak top of the GOP ticket – gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and Senate candidate Mehmet Oz – shows he can survive, especially given that Trump will be on the ballot and drawing Republicans to the polls. But complicating Perry’s chances of reelection is that he has far less in the bank – $513,00 – than any of the other three incumbents in our Vulnerable category. 

 

Potentially vulnerable

No. 5: 1st Congressional District

Incumbent: Brian Fitzpatrick (R)
Tenure: 4th term
Geography: Philadelphia suburbs: Bucks County
2022 House result: Fitzpatrick, 55%-45%
2020 presidential result: Biden, 52%-47%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): Even
White: 80%
Black: 4%
Latino: 6%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 42%
Poverty rate: 5%

As a Republican, Fitzpatrick is a perennial target in a district that backed Biden by 5 points. But Fitzpatrick’s moderate voting record and his family history (his late brother occupied the seat before him) has strengthened his position. He’s also fresh off a primary victory against Mark Houck, a challenger from his right.

The Democratic nominee is Ashley Ehasz, a former Army Apache helicopter pilot who lost to Fitzpatrick by 10 points in 2022. Ehasz trails Fitzpatrick in the money race (he has almost $3.7 million in the bank) but she has a respectable $820,000 in the bank.

 

Minimally Vulnerable 

No. 6: 6th Congressional District

Incumbent: Chrissy Houlahan (D)
Tenure: 3rd term
Geography: Southeastern suburbs: Chester and Berks counties
2022 House result: Houlahan, 58%-42%
2020 presidential result: Biden, 57%-42%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): D+5
White: 69%
Black: 5%
Latino: 16%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 46%
Poverty rate: 9%

Houlahan, who easily defeated a drastically underfunded Republican challenger in 2022, is facing a similarly underfunded GOP challenger this year: Neil Young, a social studies teacher and wrestling coach. Neither party is considering this a significant race for 2024.

 

No. 7: 12th Congressional District

Incumbent: Summer Lee (D)
Tenure: 1st term
Geography: Pittsburgh
2022 House result: Lee, 56%-44%
2020 presidential result: Biden, 59%-39%
Partisan Voting Index (Cook Political Report with Amy Walter): D+8
White: 73%
Black: 15%
Latino: 3%
Bachelor’s degree or higher: 38%
Poverty rate: 14%

Lee, a staunch progressive, survived her greatest challenge to reelection when she prevailed in the primary against Edgewood Borough Council member Bhavini Patel. Patel brought up Lee’s advocacy for an Israeli cease-fire in Gaza, among other issues, but Lee parried the attacks.

Now that she’s the Democratic nominee, Lee should be able to coast on the district’s heavy blue lean to win a second term. She faces Republican manufacturing executive James Hayes in November, but even Republicans are dubious of their chances in this district in November.

3 Responses

  1. Mike Kelly, a corrupt MAGA Trumper and far-right media commentator, would be vulnerable in the 16th, if the Democrats decide to make him so. But the Democrats won’t because they don’t understand Rural Pennsylvania.

  2. Perry’s status as Unindicted is Temporary.
    Houlahan and Lee should not even be on this list.
    The Abortion issue and the Democracy vs. Dictatorship issue will result in another PA Blue Wave.
    Mastriano’s dumbledorks may be motivated this election, the majority of Republicans are not. McCormick loses by more than Oz did. Remember Nikkki Haley’s 17%? They won’t vote.

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


    • Less Likely (36%)
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