DemDaily: The Promise of Pennsylvania

February 21, 2018

Pennsylvania's new court-mandated congressional map was released this week, providing new promise for Democrats in one of the country's key battleground states.

The new map follows a January 22, 2018 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that threw out the existing map used for the last three election cycles.  That map was originally drawn by the state's Republican-majority legislature after the 2010 census.

Although the total national number of 435 US congressional districts was established under the 1929 reapportionment act, it is individual state constitutions and laws that mandate the process for deciding how the boundaries of each of their congressional districts will be drawn, or re-drawn every ten years.

Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries for the purposes of electing representatives to a legislative body. 
Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing or manipulating those district lines to the unfair political advantage of a particular party or group.
In the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the court ruled the 2011 map constituted an illegal partisan gerrymander and "clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

 

State Republicans requested that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) stay the state supreme court's ruling pending an appeal, but it was denied.

The pending litigation also all but froze congressional campaigning while incumbents and challengers waited to see where the new district lines would fall.

It now leaves candidates little time before the March 20th filing deadline and May 15th party primaries to develop and implement their campaign plans under the new borders and targeted voters.

The "Keystone State" is traditionally one of the top "battleground" or swing states in a presidential election with a critical 20 electoral votes.  In 2016 Trump won the Keystone state 48.2% to Hillary Clinton's 47.5%, and was a turning point in the election.

New Lines
Under the old lines Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in twelve out of the eighteen seats. Under the new lines, as recalculated based on precinct performance, Trump would have won ten seats compared to HRC's eight.

This bolsters chances for Democrats, and their chances of taking back the US House in 2018.

Under the new map one congressional district, PA-11, is now more solidly Republican or "red," and the odds have improved for Democratic in six seats: PA-01, PA-05, PA-06, PA-07, PA-10, and PA-17.

Pennsylvania's New Congressional Districts
New District
Clinton
Trump
Plurality Old District
Clinton Trump
PA-01 49.1 47.1 PA-08, Brian Fitzpatrick (R) 48.0 48.2
PA-02 72.9 24.9 PA-13: Brendan Boyle (D) 65.3 31.7
PA-03 90.9 7.0 PA-02: Dwight Evans (D) 90.4 7.6
PA-04 57.9 38.5 PA-13: Brendan Boyle (D)  65.3 31.7
PA-05 62.6 34.4 PA-07: Pat Meehan (R) 49.3 47.0
PA-06 52.6 43.3 PA-06: Ryan Costello (R) 48.2 47.6
PA-07 48.7 47.6 PA-15: Charlie Dent (R) 44.2 51.8
PA-08 43.7 53.2 PA-17: Matt Cartwright (D) 43.3 53.4
PA-09 31.0 65.0 PA-17: Matt Cartwright (D) 43.3 53.4
PA-10 43.4 52.3 Scott Perry (R) 37.1 58.6
PA-11 34.7 60.5 PA-16: Lloyd Smucker (R) 44.2 51.0
PA-12 29.8 66.3 PA-10: Tom Marino (R) 30.1 66.1
PA-13 25.5 71.0 PA-09: Bill Shuster (R) 27.2 69.7
PA-14 33.9 62.9 A-18: VACANT (R) 38.5 58.1
PA-15 26.6 70.0 PA-05: Glenn Thompson (R) 33.5 62.3
PA-16 38.0 57.9 PA-03: Mike Kelly (R)  35.0 35.0 61.1
PA-17 46.7 49.2 PA-12: Keith Rothfus (R) 37.9 58.7
PA-18 61.7 34.9 PA-14: Mike Doyle (D) 66.0 30.5
Data Compiled by Brian Amos for Daily Kos

 

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Sources: Ballotpedia, DailyKos, The Hill, Roll Call

 
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