Saturday, December 17, 2016

Conservative Analysis of the 2016 Pennsylvania General Election

The results of the 2016 Pennsylvania General Election were certified by the Commonwealth earlier this week, although one contest for a seat in the House of Representatives remains unsettled.  The Republicans and conservative candidates generally performed well in both the federal and state elections on the ballot, except for a sweep of the three state row offices by the Democrats.

Republicans won each of the federal offices of presidential and vice presidential Electors (members of the Electoral College), United States Senate and U.S. Representative.  Republican Electors won a plurality by a slim margin, with non-conservative Donald J. Trump as the Republican nominee.  Presidents are not popularly elected, only the Electors, even though presidential nominees’ names appear on the ballot.  I shall analyze the election for Electors across the Union in more detail in an upcoming post.

            U.S. Senator Republican Pat Toomey, a conservative who did not announce he would cast his ballot for Trump (i.e. the Trump-Pence Electors), until an hour before the polls closed, was reelected in the only U.S. Senate seat up for election in Pennsylvania in what was the most expensive Senate contest in America, as Democrats and liberals targeted him for defeat.  He earned nearly as many votes as the GOP Electors, but with a significantly different set of voters. 

Usually there is more undervote (the skipping of the vote for an office by voters casting ballots for other offices) below president on the ballot, as there usually there is below whatever office is at the top of the ballot.  Generally, the further down the ballot, the more undervote there is.  A presidential election usually draws the highest turnout of any election and, despite the undervote, the larger number of voters casting ballots for a winning ticket usually boosts the vote totals at least to some degree for downballot candidates of the same party.  The unusually small undervote this year suggests there were no coattails for Trump in Pennsylvania, as across the Union.   

For the House of Representatives, there will be the same 12-6 Republican majority in Pennsylvania’s delegation, as Republicans held two open seats, including the one in which I reside.  The GOP candidates ranged from moderately conservative to conservative.  Some of them were in favor of their party’s presidential nominee, while others were not.

            For state offices, the results were mixed.  Democrats swept the three state row offices of Attorney General, Treasurer and Auditor General for the second straight election, the only times one party has won all three of the offices since the office of Attorney General became elective in 1980, even though two of the three elected the last time resigned in disgrace and were convicted of crimes they committed while in office. 

However, Republicans added to their General Assembly majorities in both the state Senate and House.  In the Senate, the Republican majority for the first time will be more than the two-thirds necessary to override a gubernatorial veto with the GOP holding 34 out of 50 seats.  The voters appear to approve the conservative Republican legislators because they blocked liberal Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe’s tax increases.  The Republican-led legislature can now work for spending cuts, pension reform, alcohol privatization and the elimination of local real estate taxes.  

The statewide constitutional referendum to increase the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 was approved by the voters.

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