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Results of the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 2002, illustrating the conservative central "T" concept. Note that although Democratic nominee Ed Rendell won fewer counties than Republican opponent D. Michael Fisher, Rendell carried the more populous areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to win the election.

Pennsylvania, like neighboring New Jersey, has swung from being a Republican-leaning state during much of the 20th century to a more competitive state in national presidential elections. Pennsylvania has backed the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992 up until 2016, when it was won by Republican candidate Donald Trump. In 2008, Barack Obama won almost all of the Philadelphia suburbs. Statewide, John McCain won almost three times as many counties (48) as Obama (19), but Obama won the most populous counties and therefore won the popular vote for the state, carrying its 21 electoral votes.



Presidential election results[1]
Year Democratic Republican
1952 46.9% 2,146,269 52.7% 2,415,789
1956 43.3% 1,981,769 56.5% 2,585,252
1960 51.1% 2,556,282 48.7% 2,439,956
1964 64.9% 3,130,954 34.7% 1,673,657
1968 47.6% 2,259,405 44.0% 2,090,017
1972 39.1% 1,796,951 59.1% 2,714,521
1976 50.4% 2,328,677 47.7% 2,205,604
1980 42.5% 1,937,540 49.6% 2,261,872
1984 46.0% 2,228,131 53.3% 2,584,323
1988 48.4% 2,194,944 50.7% 2,300,087
1992 45.2% 2,239,164 36.1% 1,791,841
1996 49.2% 2,215,819 40.0% 1,801,169
2000 50.6% 2,485,967 46.4% 2,281,127
2004 50.9% 2,938,095 48.4% 2,793,847
2008 54.5% 3,276,363 44.2% 2,655,885
2012 52.0% 2,990,274 46.6% 2,680,434
2016 47.5% 2,926,441 48.2% 2,970,733

Philadelphia is the Democratic stronghold of the state, often delivering huge margins for the Democrats in statewide elections. Other urban areas, such as Pittsburgh, lean Democratic as well. Like most states, Pennsylvania's rural areas tend to be more conservative and support Republicans. The resulting political map of Pennsylvania is therefore a red "T" in the center of the state with the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas a strong blue. In more recent years, the traditionally Democratic-voting areas in southwestern Pennsylvania have become much more Republican (especially after 2004), similar to other coal country areas in West Virginia and Kentucky. By 2016, counties that once voted for John Kerry in 2004 in the Pittsburgh area supported Donald Trump by more than 60%. The true swing areas of the state are the suburbs of the large cities, notably Philadelphia, which change year to year. The reason for this is the relatively moderate social and fiscal positions held by the citizens of the suburbs.

It has been said that the ideal Pennsylvania candidate is a gun-supporting, pro-life, dynastic Democrat, similar to current senator Bob Casey.[citation needed] Pennsylvania’s former Senator, Arlen Specter, announced in April 2009 that he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democratic, citing the Republicans shift to the right since he was elected in 1980, though others suspected he switched because he would face a tough Republican primary election in 2010.[2] As it turns out, he ended up losing the Democratic primary to Representative Joe Sestak. Congressman Sestak narrowly lost the general election to Pat Toomey in November 2010 returning the Senate seat to Republicans.

On the state level, Pennsylvania has been a traditionally liberal Republican state, with a dominant state Republican Party that is much more oriented towards social spending than more conservative state Republican Parties in other regions of the United States. However, the recent Democratic trend in Pennsylvania has affected state politics, and the Democrats controlled the governor's mansion for two terms under Governor Ed Rendell. After losing the governorship for four years under Tom Corbett from 2011 to 2015, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf defeated Corbett's re-election bid in 2014. Governor Tom Corbett won his 2010 gubernatorial election by a wide margin, his rough start in 2010 ultimately set the tone for his time in office. By 2014 Pennsylvania was in a billion dollar deficit under the new Governor, and in 2014 Governor Corbett made history as the first Pennsylvania Governor to lose reelection since 1970.

Federal relationsEdit

During the Tom Ridge administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintained a permanent in-house lobbying office in Washington, DC, to lobby the federal government of the United States.[3] During the Ed Rendell administration, the Commonwealth closed that office and entered into a $720,000 annual contract with Blank Rome to lobby the federal government.[3] The Rendell administration says that the contract with Blank Rome was $140,000 less per year than maintaining a permanent state office in Washington.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Leip, David. "General Election Results – Pennsylvania". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  2. ^ Cillizza, Chris. "The Fix - Specter To Switch Parties". Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  3. ^ a b c Bumsted, Brad; Mike Wereschagin (November 29, 2009). "Lobbyist expenses wasteful, critics say". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on November 30, 2009.

3.^ "Correbett Could be the First Governor to lose Re-election in PA History" [Michael LaRosa,]

4.^ "Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corrbett loses Election" , Reid Wilson [1]

External linksEdit