Well politicos, another election is in the books.
As we survey things the morning after, let’s take a look at what we learned.
A Republican Wave Swept the Nation…but Forgot Someone
Today’s numbers provide little solace to the Corbett-Cawley campaign.
With 99% of precincts in, it appears Tom Wolf prevailed by ten points, 55% to 45%.
This result occurred with a national backdrop that featured no Democratic pickups in the Senate and (quite surprisingly) no Democratic pickups in any other gubernatorial races either.
The blue team will pick a few House seats but Tom Wolf stands out as the biggest victory for the Democrats today. Which means Corbett was one of the lone Republican casualties in the 2014 midterms.
Was Wolf Really Just in the Right Place at the Right Time?
Given the facts above, it would not be surprising to hear Republicans throw Corbett under the bus in the coming days. Expect to hear the familiar refrain that the Governor just isn’t a talented enough politician and that that weakness crippled his electoral chances.
Considering the Republican wave, though, it’s worth asking if another Democratic candidate could have accomplished what Wolf did.
Would Allyson Schwartz or Rob McCord been able to defeat Gov. Corbett? As Democratic officeholders, they wouldn’t have been able to appeal to voters as non-political change candidates. There’s a reason why Tom Wolf rode into his victory speech in his famous Jeep. It symbolized that he was someone different at a time when voters very wary of incumbents.
In an alternate universe somewhere, a Tom Wolf who decided to keep his $10 million and sit this one out could have ended up watching a Corbett victory speech last night.
Wolf Had No Coattails
On the other hand, the idea that Wolf’s victory could have legislative coattails seems laughable in hindsight.
We outlined last week the five races Democrats would need to win to takeover the Senate chamber, the GOP won them all. Not only that, they picked up three seats. Additionally, the Republicans also took eight House seats. Put simply, outside of the Governor’s mansion, few GOP tears were shed last night.
Western PA vs. Eastern PA
It’s a development that been occurring for decades now, but this election made it clear, there is a deep divide between Western and Eastern Pennsylvania.
Just look at this county map from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to get the proper view.
The West, which used to be Democratic, is increasingly becoming red and the East, once Republican, is becoming blue.
It appears to me that the explanation for this is that two emerging political nationwide trends are converging in Pennsylvania.
The rural, less affluent “coal country” of the Appalachian Mountains that stretches from Northern Georgia up to South Central New York has become Republican territory.
Meanwhile, the urban, more affluent Acela Corridor that runs from the D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia up through Boston is solidly Democratic.
The emergence of these parallel tracks might be the biggest electoral development of the early 21st century and they serve to split the Keystone State in two.
Fitzpatrick’s Victory Lap
In terms of who won and who lost in the U.S. House races there were no real surprises on Tuesday. The margin in Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district race, though, was quite extraordinary.
For weeks and even months it appeared that the Democrat’s top target, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, would prevail but the final numbers are impressive.
With all the results in, Fitzpatrick won with 62% of the vote to Strouse’s 38%.
To put that in perspective, these numbers are almost identical to the results in PA-7, which received no support at all from the Democratic establishment.
Strouse was a big early DCCC recruit and it appears that was the problem. Despite the fact that candidates from both parties often move to tossup districts to run for Congress, PA-8 never forgave Strouse for it.
That must be a bitter pill for Strouse to swallow after spending over a year and a half running in this uphill race.
For Fitzpatrick, though, the landslide is his swan song. The four-term incumbent has pledged this will be his final term (although the NRCC will undoubtedly beg him to go just one more round in 2016). If so, he sure went out on top.