PA Elections’ Lessons For ’12
In the following edited exchange, former Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman T.J. Rooney and former Republican Chairman Alan Novak considered the national implications of last month’s elections in the commonwealth, which saw several county governments change hands.
T.J. Rooney: This election demonstrated a shift in our parties’ major bases of support. We saw, for the first time in modern history, the Westmoreland County Courthouse [outside Pittsburgh] taken over by Republicans. Conversely, the Montgomery County Courthouse was won by Democrats. I think this really tells the tale of Pennsylvania by telling the tale of two counties.
Alan Novak: I would agree with that. You have an east-west divide here that clearly shows the parties realigning – or, at least, election results that are counterintuitive. Western Pennsylvania has always been Democratic, blue-collar. Montgomery County and the Philadelphia suburbs have been considered white-collar, more affluent, and therefore staples for Republicans. Now we have two different results.
Rooney: The other story that Democrats need to pay attention to is the 12 [Democratic counties that changed] partisan control. To me, as a Democrat, that’s troubling. Moreover, we’ve seen our party lose ground in voter registration. Democrats still have the numbers, but the map is changing before our eyes. Those results are disconcerting.