PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With the November election just four months from tomorrow, how important is this region politically?
Political strategists have been checking out the June 2 primary results and come to some surprising conclusions.
Philadelphia once really ran Pennsylvania politics — in both political parties.
That changed when Democrats and Republicans in our region started to win nominations in statewide primaries. But at least for Democrats, the trend to nominate candidates from this region seems to be moving back east.
All three Democratic candidates for statewide office this year — Josh Shapiro (attorney general), Joe Torsella (state treasurer), and Nina Ahmad (auditor general) — come from the Philadelphia area.
— Jon Delano KDKA (@JonDelano) July 2, 2020
“What you’ve seen is a significant erosion in terms of Democratic clout in counties around Allegheny County,” says J.J. Balaban, a Democratic strategist from Philadelphia.
On Thursday, Balaban told KDKA political editor Jon Delano that more than 50 percent of this year’s Democratic primary votes came out of the Philadelphia media area, up 12 points from just a few years ago.
It’s a shift also noticed by Mike Devanney, a Republican political strategist from Pittsburgh.
“Southwestern Pennsylvania really was the place that you used to go to get Democratic votes,” says Devanney.
Not so long ago, Western Pa. would outvote the Philadelphia area, especially in primaries.
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Balaban points to a 2000 U.S. Senate Democratic Primary where Beaver County Democrats outvoted a suburban county outside Philadelphia, Bucks County, which was three times the size of Beaver.
“More votes were cast in Beaver County than in Bucks County, even though Bucks County had far more people. Why? Because in Bucks County people weren’t registered Democratic and those that were registered Democratic didn’t care to vote in the primary.”
No true today.
Democrats are gaining strength in Philadelphia’s suburbs, while losing here in the once strong Democratic counties outside of Allegheny County.
There’s a shift in voting habits in both political parties, says Devanney.
“As the Democratic Party has moved left, it has also moved further east. And, likewise, the Republican Party, moving more conservative has moved more west,” he says.
Whatever is going on in the primaries, everyone still says this region is critical for statewide elections, especially in the General Election, which is why the candidates will trip over each other campaigning here in the months ahead.