The Cook Political Report, generally considered the best political pundits in the country, took a look at the electoral landscape of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts.
Of the eighteen contests taking place this year, Cook found that fourteen of them should be easy re-election victories for incumbents. They do feel, though, that four other contests (two primaries and two general elections) could provide some fireworks.
The contested primaries are for the Republican nomination in Pennsylvania’s Ninth District and the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s Thirteenth District. They note that PA-9 is the most Republican district in the state yet also assert that because challenger Art Halvorson telegraphed his intentions so early Rep. Bill Shuster has had plenty of time to raise money and run ads in preparation.
“What Shuster lacks in ideological purity, he seems to be making up for by brute financial force,” Cook’s Dave Wasserman writes. “He ended 2013 with $1.3 million in the bank, to just $72,000 for Halvorson. What initially seemed like a top battleground in the war between the ‘establishment’ and the Tea Party looks like anything but a fair fight today.”
As for PA-13, Wasserman feels Margolies is the front-runner when it comes to name ID but that her low cash on hand totals and reliance on her Clinton family connection could backfire. In that case, Leach and Boyle each have constituencies that should turn out for them and may propel them to victory. Finally, he identifies Arkoosh as a “dark horse” who can end up surprising everyone thanks to her prodigious fundraising.
When it comes to the general election, however, Cook rates every district as “Solid Democratic” or “Solid Republican” except for PA-6 and PA-8 which are classified as “Lean Republican.”
Wasserman believes that PA-8, which consists of Bucks County and some of upper Montco, very likely qualifies as the most “toss-up” of PA districts.
“Bucks County is classic swing suburban territory: the 8th CD voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by just 255 votes in 2012,” he notes.
He describes Kevin Strouse’s candidacy as an “apparent recruitment home run” for the DCCC, yet also states that local discontent has led some political leaders in Bucks to turn towards his primary opponent Shaughnessy Naughton. Altogether, Wasserman feels that the current environment is not conducive to overthrowing an incumbent like Mike Fitzpatrick.
As for the open race in PA-6, it’s another case of the timing just not being quite right.
“For House Democrats, all the right GOP seats may be opening up at precisely the wrong time,” Wasserman asserts. “Democrats have been waiting for Gerlach to retire for their golden opportunity, but now that he’s stepping down, the opportunity looks anything but golden.”
The experts at Cook have heard that local Republicans are ecstatic about their nominee Ryan Costello, while Democrats are wary of 2008 and 2010 nominee Manan Trivedi. While Costello is described as “straight out of central casting for this seat” Wasserman gives the impression that national Democrats are not optimistic the third time will be the charm for Trivedi.
“Many Democrats remain optimistic that if Trivedi falls well short as expected, Parrish could have more time to lay the groundwork for a strong run in a better year like 2016,” he reports.
So, for all those scoring at home, the country’s most respected election forecasters believe all 18 of the Commonwealth’s seats will stay in their respective parties hands. If that’s not exactly the most thrilling prospect for democracy just remember it’s not over until all the votes are counted and anything can happen.