Editor’s Note: With so much heat rather than light in the media world today, Liberty Nation presents the following series on the crucial midterm elections that will be taking place. These elections will likely determine the course of the Trump presidency and as such should be looked at with in-depth analysis. Thus, each week LN author Graham Noble will be giving our readers a state-by-state look at the upcoming elections. This week, he covers House and Senate Races in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Pennsylvania, with its 20 electoral votes and a population in which neither of the two largest political parties enjoys a significant majority, figures prominently in presidential elections. Barack Obama carried the state twice with comfortable margins but in 2016 then-candidate Donald Trump scored a narrow victory over Hillary Clinton, 48.6% to 47.9%. Rhode Island was an entirely different story. Republican presidential candidates have carried the state only four times since 1928. Clinton’s victory in Rhode Island was decisive but it was also the smallest margin of victory for a Democrat in any of the past five elections. Clinton took 54.4% of the vote – a huge drop from Obama’s 62.7% in 2012. Trump claimed 38.9% of the Rhode Island vote.
Pennsylvania’s Democrat Senator, Bob Casey, faces a re-election fight in November. Thanks to large campaign donations pouring into his coffers from out of state, Casey is massively out-pacing his likely opponent, Republican Lou Barletta, in fundraising. As the 2016 election proved, however, money isn’t everything. The Democrat is currently polling well against Barletta and, of all Democrat senators running in states won by Trump, his seat is considered one of the safest. Barletta faces one Republican challenger, Jim Christiana, in his quest to challenge Casey. The primary will be held on May 15. The state’s other senator, Republican Pat Toomey, will run for re-election in 2022.
A huge redistricting fight dominated Pennsylvania politics in 2017 and 2018. Republican dominance of the state’s congressional delegation faces more of a challenge in this year’s midterms. Several districts represented by Republicans have been redrawn in a way that makes them more competitive for Democrats. Supporters of the state’s recent redistricting – which was ultimately decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – argue that the previous district map was an example of Republican gerrymandering.
Pennsylvania has 18 congressional districts, represented by 11 Republicans and six Democrats. The 7th district is currently vacant. If Democrats gain a majority in the US House of Representatives in November, it will be largely due to the redistricting in this state. The 1st, 6th and now vacant 7th districts all voted for Clinton in 2016. Democrats are well positioned to flip all of these seats. Ryan Costello, who represents the 6th district, is not seeking re-election. His district went for Clinton by more than nine percentage points. Democrat Matthew Cartwright may also have a fight on his hands to hold onto his 8th district, which heavily favored Trump in 2016. As with so many of this year’s contests, the economic realities will likely be the biggest deciding factor for Pennsylvania voters.
Two Democrats represent Rhode Island in the US Senate. Jack Reed’s current term ends in 2021 and Sheldon Whitehouse will run for re-election in November. The state’s two congressional districts are also represented by Democrats and both are safe seats for the party.
Midterm Election Watch predicts that Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island will both hold onto their seats, while the Democratic Party will pick up two House seats in Pennsylvania.
Join us next week as our series focuses on House and Senate Races in South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee.