Sunday, September 23, 2018

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

44 Days Until Election Day

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (East)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

This is one of several states this year where a Democrat Senator is seeking reelection in a state that was won by Donald Trump. However, it does not seem to be a situation where pro-Trump voters are anywhere near numerous enough to sway the election away from the incumbent. Other states are far more fertile territory for potential GOP pickups.

Bob Casey Jr. was first elected to the U. Senate in 2006, defeating incumbent Rick Santorum by landslide. Prior to his Senate win, he won statewide office three times as either Auditor or Treasurer, but he had lost a 2002 primary for Governor. That is a job that was held by his late father and namesake, who served for two terms, after losing previous efforts. Like his father, Casey entered public life as a pro-life Democrat on the issue of abortion and that fragment of social conservatism was considered an important factor in his being able to defeat Santorum. Casey still continues to claim he is pro-life, but has been a reliable vote for his party leadership across the board, including on most social issues. Republicans thought his low-key demeanor and general blandness might make him vulnerable in 2012, but he won reelection by nearly double digits.

None of the Republicans that began to line up to oppose Casey in 2018 looked all that formidable. The Trump White House wanted Congressman Lou Barletta, an early Trump supporter, who first gained notice for opposing illegal immigration as the Mayor of Hazletown (where he grew up and played baseball with Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon). Once Barletta agreed to leave his House seat to run for the Senate, with the backing of Trump, most of the other GOP contenders stood aside. Just to name two of them, businessman Jeff Bartos switched to running for Lt. Governor and State Representative Rick Saccone entered into a high-profile failed U.S. House special election campaign, where he lost with the White House's public support.

Barletta was seen as the all but certain nominee but did face a challenge from State Representative Jim Christiana. Still in his mid-30's, Christiana ran as a stylistic alternative to the more populist Barletta. While he stressed his conservative views and record, he also had less of an attachment to Trump. All things considered, the primary result of a 63-37 percent win for Barletta was closer than it was expected to be, and not exactly indicative of a strong statewide showing by the Congressman.

The GOP  nominee has had some difficulty keeping up on the fundraising pace, but continues to have Trump's support. The occupant of the Oval Office has coined the term "Sleeping Bob" in reference to the Democrat Casey.

In some ways, the incumbent appears to be trying to run the clock out of a campaign where he has the edge, and has attempted to limit the number of debates. The knock against Casey in the past has been that he is a poor debater and thus it makes sense he does not want to give additional exposure to Barletta to let his message get out.

The polls in this race are very similar to those in the Governor campaign going on at the same time. Both Republican nominees are running as Trump Republicans, and there is not much evidence to suggest they are getting anywhere near enough of Trump's 2016 voters, many of whom have traditionally voted Democrat, to win their races. Casey has a solid lead and should win. Some should ask themselves if Christiana might have wound up being more competitive as an oppnent.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
18 D (8 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
  7 R (2 Safe, 1 Likely, 4 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
41 D (23 holdovers, 8 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
49 R (42 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Likely, 4 Tossup)


At 9:33 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Casey, Jr., wins reelection by double digits: 57% to 40%.

I wouldn't be shocked if we see him running for the PA Governor's Residence in 2022.


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