It was a rough night for Republicans. The party massively underperformed expectations, barely taking the House and once again losing the Senate. A big state causing that disappointment? Pennsylvania, where a poor quality Senate nominee and, most importantly, the worst gubernatorial nominee in state history dragged down the entire Republican ticket.
Collapses in suburban Allegheny and struggles with the usually red counties in the T tell the tale for the GOP this cycle, while Democrats held up just fine in the Philly suburbs and the Lehigh Valley.
Oz Overperforms Mastriano By 10, But Not Nearly Enough To Overcome Issues
First, let’s be clear on one thing here. Ideologically, Dr. Oz was not the worst candidate Pennsylvania Republicans have ever put up statewide. However, the outside factors of being well, an outsider as well as multiple controversies led to Oz having terrible approval ratings.
Now, Oz very nearly did outrun his negatives by enough. But not only were they too much of a hurdle to clear, but along with Doug Mastriano losing by 15 points (we’ll get to him soon) those two hurdles combined would have sunk any campaign. However, Oz’s struggles with favorable Republican territory in the central and western parts of the State, as you can see by the swing map, are really what did him in. Combine that with no overperformance in South Central PA or the Philly collars, and you lose sir.
It ends what is a campaign that could’ve been avoided, by telling the person who hadn’t grown up here and had only just barely started living here to go away. The state party failed at that, and it was one of many missteps by them that led to Tuesday night.
Doug Mastriano Sucks and I Hope Everyone Who Had Anything to Do With Propping Him up in The Primary Gets Blacklisted
Now, I could make this about how poorly Doug Mastriano did on Tuesday. I could write about how he underperformed every metric one could as a Republican in Pennsylvania. I could write about how none of his perceived “qualities” as a candidate ever came to light. But I’m not going to do that, because that was obvious from day one of his campaign.
No, no, no, what I am going to talk about is how this outcome was clear to anyone paying attention. Instead of attempting at all to match Shapiro in TV ads, Mastriano believed he could win just by canvassing the state. He thought he could win by leaning completely into fringe ideals like Christian Nationalism. He had planned to appoint Toni Shuppe to the Secretary of State position. Shuppe is one of the biggest pushers of the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. She has also praised the known quack conspiracies of Q-Anon. Doug Mastriano never distanced himself from Shuppe once.
Mastriano was given a free pass by leadership in the state GOP – all of whom should resign in the aftermath of this failure. Everything else that happened on Tuesday night can be traced back to the inability to tell the truth to our primary voters about how much of a disaster Doug Mastriano was as a statewide candidate. Instead we allowed liars pretending to be truth tellers push Mastriano. And we paid dearly for it.
Disappointment in Congressional Races
The bleed down from the failures statewide, killed Republicans in the congressional races as well. Not only did Democrats keep Conor Lamb’s open 17th district, but Matt Cartwright also carried his seat, and, in one of the more surprising victories, so did Susan Wild. Both Wild and Cartwright pushed back challengers by two points, while Chris Deluzio beat Jeremy Shaffer by six.
The fact Republicans were unable to beat Wild was the real surprise, as the incumbent congresswoman rode the waves of the top of the ticket in Lehigh and Northampton Counties to survive once again. Wild got an eight-point win in Lehigh, outperforming Joe Biden’s win there by two. That was exactly what Wild needed to do, and holding firm in Northampton, with a two point win there, sealed the deal.
Deluzio gained strong margins in the Allegheny portion of the county, with his district wide margin matching Joe Biden’s from 2020. While Deluzio was the worst-performing Democrat in Beaver on Tuesday, losing the county by 16, he won the Allegheny portion by 12, which has many more votes than the Beaver portion.
Finally, Matt Cartwright survived the growing fundamentals of his district. However, signs are there that 2024 could be a real struggle for Cartwright. Even with a massive 18 point margin in Lackawanna County, Cartwright will, for the second straight cycle, have his smallest margin of victory district wide yet. Part of this is that the Monroe County portion of the district, a Democratic-leaning addition to the seat, stayed fairly even with its 2020 margin. Part of this may be due in part to some New Yorkers who lived in the Poconos in this area during COVID, moving back to or closer to NYC. However the fact that Republicans got very close here while losing Lackawanna by nearly 20 points is not a great sign for 2024. Keep an eye on this race.
Republicans keep Majority in State Senate, State House still up in the air
To wrap this up, I’ll not spend much time on the state senate. Republicans won all the seats I expected them to and the same can be said for the Democrats. Republicans will have a 28-22 majority as Kim Ward now takes control of the senate, the first woman to do so.
The state house is still very much in the air. Thanks to a slightly Democratic favoring state house map, Democrats made numerous gains in all parts of the state. Democrats were also able to hold the line around Scranton, along with Frank Burns surviving once again. Combine this with key gains in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and you have Democrats taking the majority. Well… almost. While a slim 102-101 majority looked very probable at the very least, an untabulated voting machine in Bucks County boosted Republicans’ slim chances.
The race in the 142nd district, in Bucks County, now shows a Republican advantage, and the 112 vote lead is expected to be enough to hold off provisional ballots. The 151st, a Montgomery County seat, is separated by 14 votes, with provisionals still left to come. Democrats only need one of these seats to take a majority.
However, the math still gets complicated early on if they do. Three State House Democrats who won races this cycle will not end up taking their seats. Summer Lee won her race to Congress, leaving her state house seat open. The same can be said for Austin Davis, who will soon be Pennsylvania’s first Black Lieutenant Governor. And tragically, Anthony DeLuca passed away two weeks before Election Day, leaving his seat open.
This will cause a lot of chaos, so the state house will not be figured out for quite a while. However, this is just another notch on the board of disappointment and failure for the Pennsylvania GOP. And leadership needs to change in the state party apparatus for Republicans in the state to start to bounce back.