Sunday, November 8, 2015

Conservative Analysis of the 2015 Pennsylvania General Election

The results were mostly favorable to Democrats in Pennsylvania’s General Election.  There were many countywide races, including for judge, as well as magisterial district judge, municipal, school board and constable offices on the ballot in the last local elections before the 2016 federal and state elections.  Despite being of the most direct affect on people, these “off-year” elections tend to generate the least interest in terms of voter turnout, as voters are already looking ahead to the presidential campaign especially. 

Democrats swept the five appellate court contests, which included an unprecedented three Supreme Court seats, as well as one each for Superior and Commonwealth Courts.  The turnout of Democrats for the uncompetitive mayoral race in Philadelphia, where Democrats dominate, was enough to give their party the edge statewide.  Democrats will now have the majority on the Commonwealth’s highest court.  Republicans retain the majority on the other two appellate courts. 

The major consolation for Keystone State Republicans was the GOP victory in a state Senate special election in Western Pennsylvania.  Amidst the state’s budget crisis between the Republican majority state legislature and liberal Democratic Governor, Republicans added to their ranks in the upper house of the General Assembly, giving them a 31-19 majority.

On balance, county results did not produce many changes, with Democrats gaining a few County Commissions and other countywide offices and Republicans picking up some, as well, particularly in the west.  Republicans tend to have the advantage in courthouses across the Keystone State.  The new Republican in the minority of the County Commission of Philadelphia suburban Montgomery County will be a conservative, the first time one will hold that post in an area where the Republicans tend to be more moderate and labor union-influenced. 

Locally, there were no changes or surprises in Berks County, as all incumbent countywide candidates won.  Republicans retain most countywide offices.  Two pro-life Democrats and a Republican were elected Judges of the Court of Common Pleas.  As with Philadelphia, the turnout of Democrats for the mayor’s race in Reading was enough not only for the Democrat to win in the city where their party dominates, but for Democrats to win the special election for City Council President and all the seats for School Director, as even the Republican on the Democratic ballot won and the Democrats on the GOP ballot lost. I was not among the candidates elected.  I shall provide more analysis on the election for Reading School Director soon.  

Democratic voters statewide and locally were urged to push the button to vote straight Democrat instead of selecting their individual preferences.  Even the important statewide judicial races tend to be more about party registration and fundraising and campaigning than about qualifications or message.  The various scandals around the state and locally involving all Democrats have not cost their party at the ballot boxyet.  The state Senate special election suggests Pennsylvanians do not want the legislature to give into the Governor’s demands to raise income and natural gas extraction taxes. 

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