Some Election Day takeaways (and a few throwaways, too)
By Steven Hoffman
Here’s a look at some takeaways from the 2019 Election—and a few things that might seem to be takeaways, but really aren’t.
Takeaway: The democrats made history by sweeping the county-wide elections.
This takeaway is obvious. The Democrats successfully ended more than 200 years of republican dominance in dramatic fashion by sweeping the 2019 county-wide elections.
In the aftermath of the unprecedented election results, everyone was feeling blue. Republicans were feeling blue because they had lost control of the county government—an outcome that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. And democrats were feeling blue because the blue wave continued to crest. This makes three straight years that democrats were energized during an election.
The democrats didn’t just win a majority on the three-person Chester County Board of Commissioners and the county row offices. They won supervisor races, school board elections, and seats on borough council. Republicans still hold a slight advantage in the number of registered voters county-wide, but Democrats showed up at the polls in stronger numbers—and it showed.
Takeaway: The get-out-the-vote effort still makes a difference on Election Day.
Gov. Tom Wolf made a stop in Kennett Square just days before the Nov. 5 election because the get-out-the-vote effort by the Kennett Area Democrats has been impressive—and sustained. A number of Pennsylvania’s top Democrats talked about the Kennett Area Democrats’ work in organizing a well-oiled political ground game that delivers on Election Day.
“We know how important the Kennett area is,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “We know how important Chester County is. Don’t take my word for it. The governor is here.”
Throwaway: The Chester County Republican Party is dead!
Mark Twain popularized the phrase, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
But sometimes statistics do tell a story. Here’s an interesting statistic: In 2015, the last time that the Chester County Commissioners were up for election, Terence Farrell was the top vote-getter with 44,712 votes. In the election last week, Farrell’s vote total was 62,287. And he finished fourth in a four-person race. In 2019, Marian Moskowitz received the most votes in the Chester County Commissioners race with 70,842 votes.
The get-out-the-vote made all the difference in the 2019 election, and without it the democrats would not have been able to score the Election Day victories that they did.
Twain once commented that “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Similarly, don’t believe any reports about the death of the Republican Party in Chester County. Sure, they got swept this election, but the fact of the matter is that more votes were cast for Republican County Commissioner candidates in 2019 than in 2015. There is no doubt that Chester County is trending Democrat, but there is also no guarantee that the trend is toward eventual dominance by democrats.
Takeaway: All politics is local (except when it isn’t).
Tip O’ Neill, the legendary Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is closely associated with the political theory that “all politics is local.” There’s a lot of truth to the idea that all politics is local—which is to say that voters can zero in on what’s happening in their community and vote accordingly. However, when you look at the election results in the Philadelphia collar counties, there is an undeniable anti-Trump sentiment at work. Democrats surged to unprecedented victories in the suburbs. They did it here, they did it in Virginia, and they did it in Kentucky, a red state where Democrats made huge gains in the suburban areas of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Throwaway: Pennsylvania’s electoral votes will go to the democratic challenger in 2020.
It’s definitely possible that a democrat will win Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election. And when you look at the energy and organization that the democratic party has built up in places like Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County, it could be argued that it’s likely that Pennsylvania turns blue in the next election. But we don’t even know who the democratic nominee will be in 2020, so it’s way too early to be making snap judgements about who is carrying Pennsylvania.
Takeaway: Now comes the hard part for the Election Day winners.
Getting elected is great. But good governing is what really matters. Best of luck to all the people who won on Election Day as they set out to make good on all of their campaign goals.