Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania Gerrymander or Not?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 4, 2019 — As more final voting data becomes available about the 2018 electoral patterns, new local analysis articles are being distributed that allow us to better understand why the results unfolded as they did.

Emily Previti published a piece for Pennsylvania’s Keystone Crossroads media site at the end of last week that details just how the congressional outcome might have changed if the state Supreme Court had not altered the Pennsylvania federal map.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled about a year before the last election that the 2011 redistricting legislative package was a political gerrymander in relation to the state’s constitution. The court then instituted new boundaries for the 2018 and 2020 elections, designed to bridge the gap until the next census, reapportionment, and redistricting processes begin again.

The court majority reasoned that the previous congressional map routinely yielding a 13R-5D congressional result was out of sync with a statewide electorate that usually favors Democrats, among other reasons. Yet, according to the Previti article, such may not have been the case.

Click on above map to see full story and interactive map at the Keystone Crossroads media site.

After overlaying the new court-imposed 18-district congressional map (above) that returned a 9R-9D result from the previous 12R-6D delegation split (the division changed when Democrat Conor Lamb won an early 2018 special election in a previously Republican 18th CD), Previti concludes that the same 9-9 split we see today may well have occurred even under the previous map.

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Special Election Called in PA

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 29, 2019 — While most of the special election banter surrounds the still undecided North Carolina situation (NC-9), the first new election of the year has just been scheduled.

With Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino’s (R-Williamsport) surprise announcement earlier this month that he was resigning from the House, a move he made official on Jan. 23 to accept a position in the private sector, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has already called the replacement special election to fill the new vacancy.

As expected, Gov. Wolf made the 12th District special election concurrent with the Pennsylvania statewide municipal primary, which is scheduled for May 21. There will be only the one election, and the candidate receiving the most votes, regardless of percentage attained, will serve the balance of the current term.

In the meantime, the 15 county chairmen from the qualified political parties will schedule a convention in the district to choose their respective nominee. Generally, the convention is weighted to accurately reflect the population spread throughout the district. Therefore, the most populous counties within the 12th CD, Lycoming and part of Centre that together possess 29 percent of the district’s population, will likely have a commensurate number of votes at the special nominating convention.

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Pennsylvania Rep. Marino to Resign

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 22, 2019 — Five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is leaving Congress next week to accept a professional position in the private sector. Marino was first elected to the House in 2010, after serving five years as the US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and 11 years as District Attorney of Lycoming County.

In the Republican wave election of 2010, Marino ousted then-Rep. Chris Carney (D) by a 55-45 percent margin and has averaged 66.1 percent of the vote in his subsequent re-elections. The 2018 Pennsylvania court-ordered redistricting plan re-numbered his 10th Congressional District to 12 and created a seat where 68 percent of the constituency carried over from the previous district.

In 2017, President Trump nominated Rep. Marino as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly referred to as the nation’s “drug czar.” But the congressman withdrew his name when experiencing some negative reaction during the confirmation process.

The 12th District will now go into a special election cycle. After the seat becomes officially vacant on Jan. 23, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will have 10 days to issue a writ of election to fill the newly open seat. The various political parties will meet in special conventions to choose their nominees, with the winners proceeding to an election date that the governor will assign. It is most likely he will schedule the 12th District special to run concurrently with the Pennsylvania municipal primary, which is calendared for May 21.

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Apportionment Projections:
Who is Gaining, Who is Losing

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2019 — Late last year, we covered the new Census Bureau report for the states gaining and losing population during the past 12-month period. Now, we see the agency’s latest just-released numbers for the decade through this past July. Armed with the new data, outside mathematicians have made apportionment projections to provide a more defined picture as to which states will be gaining or losing US House seats in the 2020 post-census reapportionment.

With two years remaining in the present decade, trends can still change and we must remember that the reapportionment formula is complex, but the new projections give us a strong idea as to just how many seats, give or take a small variance, will transfer. At this point, according to the Washington, DC-based Election Data Services, it appears that as many as 22 seats could change location affecting 17 states.

Texas, having gained 3.55 million people since the 2010 census, looks to be adding as many as three seats for the 2022 elections and beyond. This will give the Lone Star State 39 seats during the next decade, and 41 electoral votes in the succeeding presidential elections.

Florida was the second largest gainer with just under 2.5 million new residents, meaning the Sunshine State will likely gain two seats, going from 27 to 29. In terms of raw numbers, California gained more than 2.3 million people, but it actually dropped a tenth of a point below the national growth average of 6.3 percent for the past eight years. This means the Golden State is currently on the hook to actually lose a district for the first time in history.

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The Final Outlook

2018-elections-open-seatsBy Jim Ellis

Nov. 6, 2018 — Election Day has arrived, but it is likely that a majority of those planning to vote have already done so. Early voting totals are way up in most of the 37 states that employ a pre-election ballot casting procedure in comparison to the 2014 midterm election.

According to the University of Florida’s United States Elections Project, 25 of the 37 states report receiving more early votes than they did four years ago. None, however, is larger than Texas where early voting has already exceeded that grand total votes cast in 2014. The same also has occurred in Nevada, but it’s less surprising since the last midterm aggregate turnout there was unusually low.

In Texas, just under 4.9 million votes already have been received. In 2014, the aggregate early and Election Day vote was 4.72 million. In 2014, 44 percent of the total vote was cast early. If this same pattern occurs, the current election total turnout will exceed the 2016 presidential level participation figure of 8.96 million votes, however it is unlikely that will happen. How the increased turnout will affect the election outcome is undetermined at this point, but the high number of first-time voters suggest that Democrats could improve their typical standing.

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Forecasting the Results – Part II

By Jim Ellis

2018-democrat-house-majority-breakdown-text-graphicOct. 8, 2018 — The Democrats need to convert a net 24 seats to secure a one-seat majority in the US House on Election Day, Nov. 6. Many reports quote the number 23 as what is necessary to win control, but the new Pennsylvania map will yield one seat coming back to the Republicans — the new open 14th District — thus pushing the total up to 24.

As stated Friday, our forecasts listed below are based upon a series of factors, including current polling numbers, voter history, candidate personal and job approval favorability, fundraising, other races on the state ballot that could drive turnout, and outside issues such as the confirmation vote to for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court Justice, which could change the turnout model, etc.

According to our new analysis, the Democrats are on the cusp of converting the requisite number of Republican seats to take a bare majority and seeing their caucus become significantly larger. At this point, the Democratic gain range appears to reach 23 on the low side and 35 at the apex.

Looking at the country by state and region, it appears the Democrats will do well in the Midwest, in particular. The Great Lakes region that delivered President Trump his surprise victory appears to be snapping back to the Democrats in the midterm House races. Michigan looks particularly good for them at both the statewide and district levels.

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Senate Recap – Part II

By Jim Ellis

US Senate makeup

US Senate makeup

Sept. 24, 2018 — Today we continue our look at the most competitive 17 US Senate contests with our second and final installment. To take a look at our Part I recap, please see our writeup this past Friday at: Senate Recap – Part I.


NEVADA

Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in an intense re-election battle with freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) as the two compete for a toss-up Senate seat. Heller won here in 2012 by a single percentage point over then-Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas), but that was in the election when President Obama carried Nevada, 52-46 percent.

Polls go back and forth between the senator and congresswoman, but neither leads beyond the margin of polling error. Since the beginning of September three polls have been released, and the average spread between the contenders is just two points. This is a pure toss-up election and, as a Republican defense seat, one of the most important campaigns in the nation.


NEW JERSEY

The Garden State is often a teaser for Republicans, meaning polls routinely suggest their candidates will fare better than actual results portend. The Senate race between incumbent Bob Menendez (D) and pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin (R) is likely no exception. Though several polls have indicated the race is competitive, it is probable that Sen. Menendez will pull away and score a comfortable win.

Polling has been scarce. The most recent survey was released in mid-August from Quinnipiac University (Aug. 15-20; 908 registered New Jersey voters) and projects the senator to be leading Hugin, 43-37 percent. Obviously, Menendez corruption trial that ended in the case against him falling apart and being dropped has taken a toll on his favorability index, but it is doubtful that even a 29:47 percent positive to negative personal approval rating (aforementioned Q-Poll) would cost him the election.


NORTH DAKOTA

If polling were the only factor in determining race outlook, then North Dakota would be the Republicans’ best conversion opportunity. Though polls have been anything but plentiful, those that have been published find at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) leading incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).

The most recent study came in early September from Fox News (Sept. 8-11; 701 likely North Dakota voters) and finds Rep. Cramer holding a 48-44 percent advantage. This is the first survey release since the beginning of July.

The North Dakota race is a strong Republican conversion opportunity, but though Cramer appears to have a discernible edge right now, this contest is far from over.


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The Crystal Ball Comparison

By Jim Ellis

Professor Larry Sabato, University of Virginia

Professor Larry Sabato, University
of Virginia

July 31, 2018 — Last week, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato released his latest “Crystal Ball” ratings of the current US House races and declared that the Democrats are a “soft favorite” to assume the majority in the coming November elections. There’s more to the story, however.

Dr. Sabato supports his claim for several basic reasons. First, he sites the historic trends that a new president’s party loses seats in the first midterm election, and traces this electoral pattern all the way back to the Civil War era. Second, he turns to the typical polling regularly released that places President Trump’s approval ratings in what he terms “the low 40s”, and includes the generic House ratings, along with the “enthusiasm” analysis. Third, is the Democrats’ record in the current cycle’s federal and state special elections, and fourth is their second quarter fundraising “advantage.”

There are counter arguments that need mentioning for each of these points.

It is questionable to compare electoral trends developed during the 1800s to the elections of today because the world has changed so much. Bringing the analysis to at least the 20th Century and looking just at the post-World War II patterns (from President Harry Truman, inclusive, to today), we find that the average seat loss in the House during a new president’s first midterm is 26 seats. But, this average combines the six Democratic presidents losing 32 seats, and the five Republicans’ dropping 15 districts. Just three elections, 1966 (Johnson; -47 seats), 1994 (Clinton; -54), and 2010 (Obama; -63) have substantially upped the overall average.

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Gauging the Enthusiasm Gap

By Jim Ellis

i-vote-i-countJuly 13, 2018 — Much has been written over the past few elections cycles about voting enthusiasm and whether it is a predictive political factor. It has been seemingly apparent that the party members most interested in participating in an election, most particularly for a midterm or special election vote, generally see its candidates enjoy the greater success.

Yesterday, we looked at the extensive just-released Survey Monkey-Axios Media data that covered 13 US Senate races. The combined number of states also hosts a minimum of 15 competitive US House races. To re-cap, while the Survey Monkey analysts posted results under various turnout models in each of the tested states, it generally became clear about which candidate has the current advantage from the Senate contests in question.

Democrats were performing well in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where incumbents in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and West Virginia all held substantial leads over their Republican opponents.

The GOP held the upper hand in Indiana and North Dakota challenge races. In the South, Republican Gov. Rick Scott looks to be topping Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has opened a substantial lead over Tennessee former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Turning to the West, Democrats are moving ahead in both Arizona and Nevada and securely lead in Montana.

The Missouri contest between Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) stretches from a five-point Democratic lead all the way to a five-point Republican advantage depending upon the turnout model.

The Survey Monkey pollsters tested voter enthusiasm in all 13 states. They asked the following question:

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US Senate: 13 Telling Polls

By Jim Ellis

capitolJuly 12, 2018 — The Survey Monkey organization polling for the Axios Media news and information website went into the field during the June 11 – July 2 period to test US Senate campaigns in 13 different states. All of the most competitive races were studied, including the 10 Trump states where a Democratic senator is standing for re-election this year.

The cumulative result actually brings some good news to both parties, but Republicans fare better because the representative predictive models suggest the GOP is in position for a net gain of at least one seat even while falling behind in their two key defense states of Arizona and Nevada.

Though the survey sampling period is long, the three-week time frame is the period consumed to survey all 13 states. Survey Monkey begins with a regular sampling universe of 3,000,000 individuals who have agreed to participate in their polls. For this project, 12,677 registered voters participated from a high of 1,280 in Arizona to a low of 457 from North Dakota. The sample size in the largest state tested, Florida, was 1,080. All of the surveys were weighted to reflect the demographic and political trend history for each state. The polling error factor for each place ranged between 4.5 and 5.5 for all states but North Dakota. In the latter, the error factor was 7.5.

There are several bright spots for both parties. Democrats fare better on the question of voter enthusiasm, which is consistent with data results recorded in virtually every poll conducted over the past year. Regarding intent to vote across the board in these Survey Monkey polls, however, both parties record about equal numbers. Overall, President Trump’s job approval scores have greatly improved. Looking at the combined 13-state universe, the president scored a 50:49 percent job approval ratio, going from a high of 60:39 percent in Tennessee to a low of 44:55 percent in Pennsylvania. But, even his lowest rating is an improvement from where he stood earlier in the election cycle.

According to the SM numbers, Democrats are in position to convert both the Arizona and Nevada races. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) leads all three individuals competing in the Republican primary. Her strongest opponent, unsurprisingly, is US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson). In the various modeling scenarios, Sinema posts leads of between one and six percentage points over Rep. McSally and far greater margins over the other two GOP candidates.

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Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part II: Nevada Through West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 9, 2018 — With the election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) the total number of open House seats was reduced from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. On Friday we examined Arizona through Minnesota. Today we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

NEVADA (NV-3): Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Rosen a 45-41 percent general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.


NEW MEXICO (NM-1 & 2): Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5. The first two post-primary polls staked Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points.


NORTH DAKOTA (ND-AL): After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge against incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5 nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard-fought general election.


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Examining The Tuesday Turnout

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 29, 2018 — In continuing the effort to monitor primary turnout as a potential indicator of how the general election may unfold and whether a Democratic wave is forming, today we examine the preliminary participation numbers from the June 26 primaries.

Previously, in the 26 states where primaries were held, it appears that a normal turnout pattern had developed. Generally, more Democrats were voting in the states that typically vote Democratic, while more Republicans participated in those places where Republican candidates win the greater number of offices. In the five pure primary (non-run-off) states that held primaries on Tuesday, such a pattern continued. Utah was not included in the following analysis because the state did not feature any political contest where both Democrats and Republicans held a primary vote.

Democrats decisively turned out more people in Maryland (the Senate Democratic primary attracted 560,477 votes while the Republicans only produced 169,047), as one would expect, since the Free State is one of the strongest Democratic entities in the country. Conversely, more Republicans than Democrats voted in the Oklahoma primary (452,194 to 395,038 in the gubernatorial race), and that ratio, too, was anticipated.

Colorado, generally considered a swing state but one moving toward the Democrats in most elections, again saw more Democrats participating in Tuesday’s election. In the open governor’s race, 627,839 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial primary as compared to 493,445 Republicans. Once more, these numbers are predictable and represent a rather normal voter turnout pattern.

While talk of a “blue wave” continues and polls continue to show that more Democrats are interested and enthused about the coming midterm elections in the fall, such is not apparent in actual voting behavior within the two largest and most prolific Democratic states. In California, as we previously reported, while more Democrats than Republicans voted in the statewide jungle primary, in the seven targeted congressional districts more people voted for Republican candidates in six of those seven.

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The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

May 25, 2018 — With primaries having been completed in 13 states we review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Yesterday we reviewed Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina.


Ohio: A competitive open governor’s race is underway, featuring Attorney General and former US Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and ex-Attorney General Richard Cordray (D). Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) begins the general election in the favored position over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). A special election in the 12th District between state Sen. Troy Balderson (R) and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) occurs on Aug. 7. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) defends his seat against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval. Former NFL football player and businessman Anthony Gonzalez (R) is heavily favored to succeed Rep. Renacci in the open 16th District.


Oregon: The only competition here is occurring in the governor’s race, where incumbent Kate Brown (D) runs for her first full term against state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). The governor is a clear favorite for re-election.


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Post-Primary Pennsylvania:
Setting the Stage

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map - Philadelphia Area

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map – Philadelphia Area | Click on map to see full-size Philadelphia area congressional line up

May 17, 2018 — Now that the dust is settling from the May 15 Pennsylvania primary, we can firmly look at which of the races have already produced November winners and the match-ups for what will be key toss-up races.

Keystone State voters chose nominees for the statewide offices and congressional races where incumbents and candidates ran for the first time in newly drawn districts.

The governor’s race will feature incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf seeking a second term against York Republican state senator and businessman Scott Wagner. With Gov. Wolf’s job approval improving after a rocky first two years in office, he is clearly favored for re-election in the fall.

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) runs for a second term against Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton). Barletta tallied a 63 percent Republican primary victory on Tuesday, setting up the general election contest. Sen. Casey is favored for re-election, and it remains to be seen if Rep. Barletta can attract the attention and financial support to make this a top-tier challenge race.

The Pennsylvania primaries produced Tuesday winners who have virtually punched their tickets to Washington in districts that heavily favor their political party. Aside from incumbents Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), Tom Marino (R-Williamsport), Glenn Thompson (R-Howard), Mike Kelly (R-Butler), and Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) securing re-election, the following non-incumbents will also head to DC after the general election:

• District 4 (Montgomery County) – State Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)
• District 5 (Delaware County) – Ex-local official Mary Gay Scanlon (D)
• District 9 (East-Central PA) – Former Revenue Comm. Dan Meuser (R)
• District 13 (Central PA) – Dr. John Joyce (R)
• District 14 (Southwest PA) – State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R)

Races that heavily favor a particular candidate, yet still feature competition:

• District 6 (Chester County) – Chrissy Houlahan (D) vs. Greg McCauley (R)
• District 10 (Harrisburg/York) – Rep. Scott Perry (R) vs. George Scott (D)

The following are the highly competitive districts that will dominate the Pennsylvania congressional campaign landscape in the fall:

• District 1 (Bucks County) – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) vs. Scott Wallace (D)
• District 7 (Allentown/Bethlehem) – Marty Nothstein (R) vs. Susan Wild (D)
• District 8 (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) – Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) vs. John Chrin (R)
• District 17 (Allegheny County) – Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) vs. Rep. Conor Lamb (D)

May Primaries: Round 2

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

May 15, 2018 — Voters in four more states go to the polls to choose their nominees today. Today, we examine those four states as voting gets underway in the Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania primaries.

Pennsylvania

Voters in the Keystone State go to the polls throughout the day to choose partisan nominees for governor, US senator, and representatives in their 18 new US House Districts.

The governor and Senate contests are not stirring up much intrigue as neither Gov. Tom Wolf (D) nor Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) face any Democratic primary opposition. On the Republican side, state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) seems to have the inside track against businessman Paul Mango and former Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Laura Ellsworth. In the Senate GOP contest, US Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) appears primed to defeat state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Monaca) for the opportunity to challenge Sen. Casey in November. Both Democratic incumbents are currently favored to win new terms.

PA-1: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) will easily win re-nomination against a minor Republican candidate. Democrats have three candidates vying for advancement to the general election. Though the district remains 93 percent intact after the state Supreme Court re-drew the Pennsylvania CDs, and contains all of Bucks County, this race has toss-up potential.

PA-2: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) is running in the eastern downtown district, now fully contained within Philadelphia County. Rep. Boyle will have little trouble securing this seat in tonight’s Democratic primary and in the general election. Half of Rep. Boyle’s previous 13th District comprises new District 2.

PA-3: Freshman Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) seeks re-election in a slightly different district, as 80 percent of his former constituents are re-cast into the new 3rd CD. Evans will easily be re-elected in both today’s primary and the general.

PA-4: The new 4th is comprised of parts of five previous districts, and now contains most of Montgomery County with a sliver of Berks County. Former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) is attempting a comeback here, but it appears state Rep. Madeleine Dean has the advantage in the Democratic primary. The new 4th is safely Democratic in the general election.

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