Republicans Drop 10% in Pennsylvania Special Elections

Two special elections for the Pennsylvania State Senate in solidly Republican areas saw the Republican vote fall by 10% and 8.5%.

In the 1998 General Election, when Governor Tom Ridge was winning re-election by almost 2 to 1, the Republican candidates in Delaware County's 26th district in the southeast corner of the state, and in the 40th District in Pittsburgh's suburbs, were winning with 70.8% and 67.4% respectively.

In the March 20th special elections, the Republican candidate in the 26th district won with 60.18% of the vote, and the Republican in the 40th District won with 58.98%, each about 10% lower than two years before.

A look at the numbers is instructive. In 1998, the two races received about 70,000 votes: 67,481 in the 26th, and 73,521 in the 40th. The Republican candidates received 47,839 and 49,571 votes respectively; with the Democrats getting 19,642 and 22,392. A Libertarian candidate received 1,558 in the 40th District, the one with the highest turnout.

[Please note that in races with 3 candidates rather than 2, all the candidates do better. The 3 candidate race had 6,040 more voters.]

In the Special Elections, the turnout was about 50,000: 44,964 in the case of the 26th and 51,548 in the 40th. Here again, the race with the larger number of candidates had the higher turnout. Each race saw turnout decline by about 22,000 voters.

The Republican candidates received 27,060 in the 26th district, and 30,407 in the 40th, a difference of 3,347 votes. The Democratic candidates received 17,904 in the 26th, and 19,925 in the 40th, a difference of 2,021 votes. These races took place at opposite ends of the state. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent in each race. The issues were significantly different. In the 26th district, the race was held to fill the seat of a Republican who was forced to resign because of a scandal. In the 40th, the race was held because the incumbent Republican had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet, the results were similar, showing that voters concerns transcended local issues.

There was an independent candidate in the 40th district special election, just as there was one in the General Election. The independent received 1,216.

The two party vote in both special elections was 44,964 in the 26th district to 50,332 in the 40th district, a difference of 5,368.

The Democratic vote dropped by about 2,000 votes in each race. The Republican vote, on the other hand, dropped by approximately 20,000 in each race.

This is not good news for the Republicans. While Special Elections always draw fewer voters to the polls than General Elections, these results show that in these traditionally solidly Republican districts, many Republicans stayed home. In fact, 10 times more Republican voters did not vote than Democratic voters.

There will be a special election to fill the House seat of the winner in the 40th district. That date has not been set. On May 15th there will be a special election in the 9th district to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Bud Shuster. Like these State Senate districts, the 9th is a solidly Republican District in the Western part of the state. Shuster did not even have a Democratic opponent at the General Election last November.

The collapsing stock markets and the declining Republican vote is not a sign that people are happy with the outcome of the General Election last November, or that they accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush. Bush has another two to four months to prove he deserves to be president.

So far, he is not making the grade.But the problem is that Bush does not care. If he cared about the opinion of the voters he would not be president in the first place. He is wrecking the economy and he could not care less.

Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf

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