Why was there a Blue Wave in Pennsylvania?

By Mike McGann, Editor, the Times @mikemcgannpa

By now we’ve all had a bit of time to digest the election results — in terms of Pennsylvania and Chester County — it was a very good mid-term election for Democrats, sweeping the statewide races, taking control of the state House of Representatives and holding all of their Congressional seats.

As you may know, the party in control of the White House tends to have a tough time in mid-term elections — and yes, the Republicans did get narrow control of the U.S. House of Representatives — but in general the so-called “Red wave” just never happened nationally and was more like a Blue Wave in Pennsylvania.

Obviously, there are many reasons.

Democrats continue to hold an edge at Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts, using sophisticated targeting and data collection to identify their likely voters and get them out to vote, either by mail or on election day. It is a system that has gotten more effective with every election cycle.

It wasn’t long ago that Democrats were the party of chaos and Republicans had a disciplined, tightly run election operation. Since 2017, that has almost entirely swapped: while the GOP has turned into something of a Lord of the Flies operation, Democrats got reasonably united, focused and used technology to close the gap on GOTV and ultimately become far better at it than Republicans.

Another reason: poor candidate quality. The GOP fielded too many candidates who were outside of the mainstream – many backed by former President Donald Trump. Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz both turned out to be drags on local tickets and may well have cost Republicans any chance at holding the State House.

A third reason: fairer, much less Gerrymandered legislative districts. Keep in mind that because of a concept called “packing” (many, many Democrats are packed into overwhelmingly Democratic legislative districts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), it was virtually impossible to create a truly fair map. Even this newer “fair” map has about the 3% advantage statewide for Republicans. But it was enough for Democrats to grab a narrow majority in the House.

And yes, lastly, abortion was on the ballot and it hurt Republicans much more than anticipated. Women and young people turned out at very high rates.

It was a bit of the coup d’grace of the process of Republicans becoming increasingly irrelevant in Pennsylvania — and clearly in Chester County, once a bastion of Republicanism. One wonders whether some of the lessons learned can be outsourced to neighboring Ohio — where Democrats seem to be lost at sea.

It may well also prove to a precursor to how the party fares in national politics.


When I first moved to Pocopson in 1999, every single state and federal legislative official representing me in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. was a Republican. In January, 2023, for the first time since I moved to Chester County, I will be represented only by Democrats in the State House, the State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

I think this says a lot about both how much Chester County has a changed and how much our politics nationally has changed.


From all of us at The Times, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and warm and welcoming times with friends and family.

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