Problems for Pennsylvania Republicans

Terry Madonna, a Franklin and Marshall political scientist, along with strategic consultant Michael Young, pivots off Arlen Specter's defection to look at the deeper ...
by | May 4, 2009
 

Rendell Terry Madonna, a Franklin and Marshall political scientist, along with strategic consultant Michael Young, pivots off Arlen Specter's defection to look at the deeper problems the GOP faces in the Keystone State in a new column (it should be posted soon here).

Madonna and Young note that at the start of the decade, it looked like Pennsylvania Democrats were the endangered party but say of course now it's Republicans who are struggling:

The new century has been a veritable feast for state Democrats. They control the governorship, the congressional delegation, two of the three statewide row offices, two of the three appellate courts, one chamber of the state legislature, and now, for the first time since the 1940's, both U.S. senators are Democrats. Altogether Democrats have won 14 of the past 19 statewide elections - a string of victories that completely reverses the Republican domination established a decade earlier.

The authors outline five reasons: 1) Normal partisan cycling; 2) The decline of values voting; 3) Civil war within the Pennsylvania GOP; 3) The "bluing" of the formerly moderate Republican Philadelphia suburbs; and

5.      Rendell and His Impact on Democrat Success - Rarely does a single politician so mark his time that one can look to his legacy to explain broad political transformation. But Ed Rendell does so. He was wildly popular in the Republican Philadelphia suburbs during his eight-year tenure as mayor. Later he would rack up huge majorities among those suburban voters in his two statewide races for governor - first as the recipient of Republican cross over voting and then in getting Republicans to convert permanently to the Democratic Party. While Rendell alone is not responsible for the Republican conversions, the Democrats emergence as the dominant party in Pennsylvania cannot be imagined without him and the impact he has had on state politics.

Update: corrected to reflect coauthorship of this column -- apologies to Michael Young.

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