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Map: PA-8 Democratic Primary

The contest between Kevin Strouse and Shaughnessy Naughton for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district was perhaps the most hotly contested, and closest, election of the May primaries.

In the end, just 817 votes separated the two candidates, with Strouse emerging as the nominee. As a result, we thought it would be instructive to take an in-depth look at the geographical breakdown of the results.

Strouse Naughton Key

The first revelation that jumps out from that map is that, save for a few exceptions, the divisions between the areas won by Strouse (in blue) and those won by Naughton (in green) are pretty clear-cut. The former won most of lower and upper Bucks while the latter took central Bucks. Strouse also took most of the western part of the district and Naughton the east.

The Eighth District consists of all of Bucks County and parts of Northeast Montgomery county.

Most of the votes in Bucks County lie in lower Bucks, with Middletown (3,033 total votes), Bristol Twp. (3,025), Bensalem (2,438), Lower Makefield (2,126), Falls (1,982) and Northampton (1,963) making up just over 40% (14,567) of the 8th district’s 36,063 voters.

Strouse won all of these areas with the exception of Lower Makefield where Naughton ran strong with nearly 61%. Strouse took almost the same share of the vote in his hometown of Bensalem.

The difference came in the other townships. Strouse won handily with 60% of the vote in Falls but he carried the rest by narrow margins: 53% in Bristol Twp., 51% in Northampton, and most importantly, 52% in Middletown (home to Levittown).

Strouse’s close victories in these vote-rich areas likely made the difference.

Naughton ran admirably in Doylestown and the surround areas, including most of Eastern Bucks which includes her native Point Pleasant. She also performed well in Hatfield, the only major city in the Montco section of the Eighth.

As a comparison, check out the map we made for Fitzpatrick’s 14-point 2012 victory over Kathy Boockvar.


In order to win, Strouse will have to maintain his advantage in Bensalem, Warminster and the rest of lower Bucks. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is from Levittown which means Strouse’s total in Middletown will likely take a hit. This makes it imperative that he win over Naughton voters, especially in Lower Makefield and Doylestown.

Overall, it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent Congressman, especially in a year in which no major partisan wave (either Democratic or Republican) appears to be emerging. The primary provides a roadmap for the Strouse team but Fitzpatrick is a political veteran who has run (and won) several races in Bucks.

No matter the outcome, PA-8 could very well be the most entertaining race on election night.

6 Responses

  1. Strouse’s task is the same as that faced by every Democrat who has ever won this district since 1932. Well, alright both of them. In fact because of the improved voter registration his task is easier. It’s an obvious and simple formula. He has to maximize the Democratic vote south of route one, make substantial inroads with the independents and pick up somewhere between 8% and 12% of the Republicans, mostly in central Bucks and along the river from Yardley to Tinicum. Even falling short of these goals he can still win because of the changed registration numbers. The way to do that, in my humble opinion is to wage a relentless and merciless campaign against the incumbent based on his record on social and economic issues. That fight can be waged on the ground, but mostly it must be waged on the air. For more than half a century this district has sent progressive and thoughtful candidates to Congress from both parties. Strouse can make the case that he, not the incumbent is in the tradition of former US Reps Biester and Greenwood and the late State Sen Ed Howard on issues like choice, gay rights and the environment. Elections are about differences and these two candidates are fundamentally different. Strouse needs to convince voters to vote against the incumbent and his greatest weapon is the incumbent’s voting record, which despite an occasional and deliberate vote cast to make him appear moderate is in line with the House Republican majority, the most right wing and reactionary Congress since the one taken on by Harry Truman in 1948. This race is winnable and assuming he can raise the money, define Fitzpatrick for what he is and turn out the Democrats Strouse can win it.

  2. Strouse moved into Bensalem a week before he announced that he was running for Congress but eventually paid cash for a house in Middletown.

  3. Fitzpatrick being a native of Levittown which encompasses 3 municipalities (Bristol, Falls, and Middletown Townships) and that he won Middletown, and was within 3 points of being even in both Falls and Bristol. This with Obama at the top of the ticket.
    Corbett may be a drain but Fitzpatrick out performed every candidate in the district by 10 points or more. Highly unlikely that Fitzpatrick will fall off and be defeated by a no name candidate who hails from an extremist 1%er family back ground.

    Fitzpatrick by 20

    Bucks Dems shoot themselves in the foot by nominating the worse of 2 candidates.

  4. Reasonable Rep- totall agree about the premise of the article. It would be fantastic thought to defeat Fitz and gain back the seat to further reduce the chances of a GOP majority in the House. Each Republican, no matter how moderate or reasonable he/she claims to be just empowers and enable the cuckoo birds. Sorry Fitz, but you have to go!

  5. Does the author realize that PA has closed primaries? He writes about Strouse having to “maintain his advantage” in certain areas, as if Strouse already faced the entire electorate (Dem/Rep/Ind) from those areas on May 20th.

    The geographical breakdown of a close primary election is interesting to see, but it in no way “provides a roadmap” to Strouse for winning a general election.

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