June 22, 2019

THE ONLY BATTLEGROUNDS ARE RED:

The Democrats' Pennsylvania Edge: Rejecting Donald Trump, voters in Greater Philadelphia pose a major obstacle to Republican chances. (Charles F. McElwee, June 21, 2019, City Journal)

Philadelphia's suburbs represent an approximation of Republicans' worst political fears. For decades, the GOP relied on four surrounding "collar counties"--Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery--to offset the city's Democratic voting margins in national and statewide elections. But now the populous outskirts have joined the city's blue-shaded protectorate. Once a producer of moderate Republicans, the Delaware Valley now elects Democrats to Congress, county courthouses, and the state capital. As a result, Republicans can no longer count on the region's congressional seats or down-ballot offices--and next year, suburban Philadelphia's voters could deny Donald Trump an encore performance in Pennsylvania.

Encompassing over 2,000 square miles, Pennsylvania's southeastern counties are an expanse of prosperous boroughs and middle-class enclaves, congested highways and wooded backroads. Low-density sprawl--featuring townhouses, strip malls, and office parks--collides with preserved farmland, deer-populated forests, and historic sites from the colonial era. Throughout the region, voting trends suggest a stark political realignment, one driven less by distaste for Republican policies than by distaste for Trump. Since the 2016 presidential election, the number of registered Democrats has increased, and the party now boasts over 90,000 more voters than the GOP.

In 2017, a Democratic upswing, hastened by disillusioned Republican and independent voters, resulted in historic, down-ballot victories for the party. In Delaware and Bucks Counties, Democrats won countywide seats held by Republicans for decades. In Montgomery County, once Pennsylvania's GOP bellwether, Democrats gained judgeships, borough offices, and school-board seats. Their wins recalled the 2012 election, when the party secured a majority in the top county office--the board of commissioners--after a century-long disadvantage. And in Chester County, where Republicans maintain a slight registration edge, Democrats won "row" offices--treasurer, controller, clerk of courts, coroner--for the first time in 219 years.

The 2018 midterms reinforced Democrats' suburban ascendance.

There is nothing in Trumpism for the suburbs.


Posted by at June 22, 2019 7:29 AM

  

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