The focus on the 2012 Pennsylvania Primary had been on the Republican presidential race, but the significance of even the beauty contest had decreased significantly within the last few days of the campaign with the suspension of the campaign of former United States Senator Rick Santorum. Still on the ballot, the
favorite son received a respectable 18% of the vote, while native Pennsylvanian
Newt Gingrich won 10.5% of the vote in the first competitive Republican
presidential primary in the in decades. The combined 29% represented a still-significant
conservative protest vote against the moderate Keystone
front-runner whose campaign tried to portray his chief rival as less than conservative, despite Santorum’s conservative voting record over sixteen years in Congress.
As I noted in my last post, however, the significance of the race was mostly for Delegates to the Republican National Convention. Many conservatives were among the victors.
The major significance of the
Pennsylvania primary was
on the Democratic side for U.S. Representative.
The Democratic primary results in Pennsylvania
were characterized by a noticeable shift leftward among Democratic voters, as
two incumbent U.S.
Representatives lost in newly-drawn districts to more liberal opponents,
including Rep. Tim Holden, who was the dean of the state congressional
delegation. The smaller Democratic state
congressional delegation would thus continue to become more liberal, regardless
of whether the primary winners are victorious in the general election.
The results, which were heavily influenced by redistricting, nonetheless sent a shockwave across
they may signal the demise of “conservative Democrats,” especially the Blue Dog
Democrats, like Holden, a group that billed itself as fiscally moderate. Several pro-life members of that group had
lost in 2010 to Republican challengers because of their support for President
Barak Obama’s federalization of health insurance, which would allow the federal
funding of abortion. The primary in the suggests that liberal Democratic
voters have become even less tolerant of occasional conservative votes, even
from representatives with mostly liberal voting records who had represented
conservative districts. See my post from
October of 2010, Some House Democratic Candidates are Trying to Run Away from
Obama and the Liberal Democratic Congressional Leadership, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2010/10/some-house-democratic-candidates-are.html.
The opposition from both left and right to this dwindling group that claims to
be in the middle is squeezing it into an ever-smaller size, leaving it even
less influential than it ever was. It
was never successful in eliminating wasteful spending even at its full
strength. The Keystone State Pennsylvania primary has cast even more
doubt on its effectiveness.
There has been some debate about the significance in the
primary of the issue of abortion and the effectiveness of a considerable amount
of money spent by Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in the U.S. Although the results were somewhat favorable
to Planned Parenthood in state legislative Democratic primaries, it came up
short in a simultaneously-held special election for state representative,
despite spending $100,000.
The Democrats did, however, net a gain of one in the three special elections for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. They will remain several seats short of a majority in the chamber.
The Republicans nominated a candidate for U.S. Senate, Tim Smith, a farmer and coal mine owner, who has been tying the incumbent Democratic Senator to the fiscally irresponsible policies of Obama that Senator has supported which have increased the federal debt to $15 trillion. The Obama Administration’s hostility to the coal industry in particular, and opposition to the Keystone natural gas pipeline and to more drilling for oil will undoubtedly also be a major issue in the general election campaign.
Pennsylvania primary election confirms my longstanding
opinion that Pennsylvania
is not a “moderate” state, as many pundits have asserted over the years, but a
closely, sharply ideologically divided one, despite the massive Democratic
voter registration advantage. For
example, pro-life liberal Democrats, whose ranks are dwindling, are liberal,
not “moderate.” Conservatives must build
on the edge gained in 2010 and elect more of their own to public office in the . Keystone State