Close this search box.

PA-Sen: Can Toomey Win in a Blue State?

Pat-ToomeySlowly, yet consistently, Pennsylvania has been trending from a purple state to a light blue state, at least when it comes to presidential elections.

A Republican Presidential nominee hasn’t won the commonwealth in my lifetime, with George H.W. Bush’s landslide over Mike Dukakis in 1988 marking the GOP’s most recent victory.

For this reason, Politico identified Senator Pat Toomey’s race as a key indicator into whether ticket splitting is still a current political phenomenon.

They point to Bob Casey’s 2012 re-election as an example. The writers believe that since Casey only slightly outperformed President Obama, it may prove difficult for Toomey to gain much separation from the GOP’s 2016 nominee.

“Senate results have been converging with presidential ones for years now, and, in 2016, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey will be one of many Republican incumbents facing that issue,” they write. “Toomey has honed bipartisan credentials on issues like gun control while in the Senate, and he spent 2015 reaching out to moderate voters on TV and around Pennsylvania. It’s all part of an effort to be the rare senator who can pull more than a few points away from the presidential results in his or her state. And with Republicans protecting a four-seat Senate majority, control of the chamber in 2017 may depend on it.”

In order to test this hypothesis, I’m going to compare the results of the last three times Pennsylvania voters had their say in a Presidential and Senate race on the same ballot.


George W. Bush vs. Al Gore

Bush: 2,281,127 46.43%

Gore: 2,485,967 50.6%

Counties won by Bush: 49

Counties won by Gore: 18

2000 map

Rick Santorum vs. Ron Klink

Santorum: 2,481,962 52.4%

Klink: 2,154,908 45.5%

Counties won by Santorum: 59

Counties won by Klink: 8

2000 map Santorum vs. Klink


George W. Bush vs. John Kerry

Bush: 2,793,847 48.42%

Kerry: 2,938,905 50.92%

Counties won by Bush: 54

Counties won by Kerry: 13

2004 map

Arlen Specter vs. Joel Hoeffel

Specter: 2,925,080 52.62%

Hoeffel: 2,334,126 41.99%

Counties won by Specter: 63

Counties won by Hoeffel: 4

2004 map Specter vs. Hoeffel


Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney

Obama: 2,990,274 51.97%

Romney: 2,680,434 46.59%

Counties won by Obama: 13

Counties won by Romney: 54

2012 map

Bob Casey vs. Tom Smith

Casey: 3,021,364 53.69%

Smith: 2,509,132 44.59%

Counties won by Casey: 17

Counties won by Smith: 50

2012 map Casey vs. Smith

As you can see, Santorum’s 200,000 vote advantage on Bush shrunk four years later when Specter ran about 130,000 votes ahead of Pres. Bush. In 2012, Casey got just 30,000 votes more than President Obama.

All this suggests that split-ticket voting is in fact declining. So while Toomey may be able to outrun the candidate atop the GOP ballot, he’ll likely need Pennsylvania to remain at least somewhat competitive in order to secure a second term.

20 Responses

  1. This is a good analysis but incomplete. I think Santorum 2000 to 2006 and Corbett 2010 to 2014 are relevant elections. Both lost because they walked away from the promises they had made, explicitly and implicitly, to a base who elected them. Santorum and Corbett were loyal to their donor base.

    If Rick Santorum had gotten the same number of votes in 2006 that he got in 2000 , he would have won in 2006. (2,481, 962 in 2000; 1,684,788 in 2006– 797,000 fewer votes)

    If Tom Corbett had gotten the same number of votes in 2014 as he got in 2010, he would have won. 2,172,163 in 2010;; 1,575,511 in 2014- 595,000 fewer votes)

    Pat Toomey has the problem that most of us that he is a McConnell Establishment Republican and although his votes are good, he has walked away from the enthusiastic base that supported him in 2004 against the very Establishment Arlen Specter. Pat Toomey’s support for a Union Business Agent (He shares our values) said Pat Toomey) in DelCo Special Election against the very excellent Lisa Esler, who had worked hard for him in 2010, demonstrated that Pat Toomey is willing to do what Rick Santorum did.

    Pat Toomey is a Club for Growth Republican who is personally Pro-Life. He is NOT a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz anti-Establishment Republican.

  2. I think for the Republicans can win Pennsylvania’s Attorney General race in 2016, and the US Senate race from Pennsylvania as well, and yes I am talking about Pat Toomey’s US Senate seat in 2016.

  3. Yes he can because I did supported him for reelection in 2016 and works well with Bob Casey and I will also support him for his potential reelection campaign in 2018.

  4. eagleswing-

    Considering the alternative of Toomey, all we need in the Senate is a money who can press the vote button that matches the majority of the Dem caucus. No other brain power, positions, policies, or qualifications are required to be a improvement.

    Katie can be trusted to push the button she’s told to press.

    Sestak can be “trusted” to side with the GOP on critical votes, like Iraq funding, against the Dem majority. He’s a hawk and a closet republican.

    Fetterman can be trusted to vote with the minority of Dems, when that minority is the progressive Warren/Sanders wing.

  5. “..those women support Katie because she is the type of person that belongs in the Senate AND because there are not enough female elected officials in this country. ..” what a stupid reason to vote for someone. most sentient humans vote for the person who will make the better senator, not someone for having the most kids or being from a poor blue-collar family. I recall ex justice Orie Melvin’s campaign ads showing her in a kitchen with a bunch of screaming kids as her credential for a PA supreme court seat.. so people should vote for incompetents ‘because’ they’re women ? (or hindu, or hispanic, or black, or catholic? ) count me out.

  6. Isaac L.

    The only thing that separates Toomey from the crazy right-wing tea party conservatives is that he is smart enough not to shoot his mouth off about his views in public.

  7. Wow, Jon Cotti – Toomey, a liberal? His DW Nominate score was 0.718 when elected where Santorum’s was 0.349. Digest that for a moment. Pat Toomey ranked the 24th most conservative out of the 1,520 legislators ranked between 1981 and 2010. Before the wave, that would have made him the second most conservative member of the Senate. Either you don’t really know what you’re talking about or you’re some kind of John Bircher, because Pat Toomey is about as far from liberal as you can get.

  8. The funny thing about this race, is that among the Dems I talk to, most think McGinty will win (whether they like her or not), only Sestak lemmings think Joe will win, but nearly everybody says they like Fetterman and agree with him more (and will probably vote for him, even though they don’t think he has a chance).

    So, there could be a lot of Fetterman votes out there that might surprise people.

  9. Elmo running as a D could beat that elf-like tea-guzzler. He is a real POS and PA now knows it. One-Term-Patty!!!

  10. Toomey will easily beat McGinty. Not even a contest. Toomey vs. Sestak is the close one—forget the polls, the polls are getting worse for all contests, although Sestak does well in the recent polls. McGinty should have started as a state rep or mayor or some other lower office. She and her handlers think she is “entitled.” With her work record, she probably would not finish a 6 year term–she’d be on the look for a new job somewhere! She’s a disaster for Democrats.

  11. Renee, so you’re cool with Katie fast tracking approval for a dirty coal plant to beat tighter EPA regulations that would have made it illegal?

    Renee, you cool with her taking six figures from individuals with ties to the largest toxic waste dumping scandal in the history of PA?

    If Katie claims to be a champion of the middle, why did she go to work for fracking lobbyist?

    Katie is the product of a disgusting political machine.

  12. Brad, those women support Katie because she is the type of person that belongs in the Senate AND because there are not enough female elected officials in this country. The 10 kids thing may be a campaign line, but I don’t see you attacking male candidates for pandering a little bit. As to these “skeletons”, everything that everyone has attacked her on so far has been crap about having worked for companies that dealt with government. Surprise! People saw her a competent and she got other jobs. I am sure Sestak’s favorite troll “revolving door” will be on here in no time to lament people working in the sphere of government and then running for office. We can’t all get blackballed from government the way the admiral has.

  13. Anyone know of a constituency that is thrilled with this guy, that can’t wait to go to polls to re-elect him in an environment when everyone is angry at Washington? Do gun owners have Toomey’s back? Social conservatives? Trying to win on being Mr. Pragmatic who knows who to work and get things done is not going to work in a year when everyone thinks Washington is broke and everyone currently there is to blame. In this kind of rare environment, the only way to survive is to have a ridiculously enthused base come in and save your ass, the kind of base that Jesse Helms used to get re-elected in North Carolina time and time again, and Toomey doesn’t have it. Wrong cycle for his approach to politics.

  14. FYI: That endorsement comes with endorsements for several other women. Pretty sad when the strongest argument for a candidate is his or her sex. Oh and being one of 10 children.

    McGinty has many very unflattering skeletons in her closet that have never been pulled out because she’s never been a threat to another candidate. (Took 7% in the Dem Gov primary) Toomey will spend his millions demolishing her questionable character if she makes it to the general election.

  15. Toomey is a loser- he supported Mitch McConnell as majority leader-:when we needed courage we got weasels like Toomey. He will lose because a significant portion of base not tied in to tea party or trump will walk away from him out of disgust!

  • Who are you voting for in the PA Supreme Court race?

    • Dan McCaffery (61%)
    • Carolyn Carluccio (37%)
    • Still undecided (2%)

    Total Voters: 344

    Loading ... Loading ...
Continue to Browser


To install tap and choose
Add to Home Screen