Pennsylvania’s voting trends have grown more predictable over the past decades
Most famously, in every gubernatorial election for the past 75 years, Pennsylvanians have elected a governor from the party opposite of that holding the presidency.
For example, in 2008, Republican Tom Corbett was elected governor while Democratic President Barack Obama held the White House.
For some reason (probably dissatisfaction with the party holding the White House), this trend held true for all of Corbett’s predecessors going all the way back to 1935, as follows:
Gov. Ed Rendell (D), elected 2002 while George W. Bush (R) was president.
Gov. Tom Ridge (R), elected 1994 while Bill Clinton (D) was president.
Gov. Robert P. Casey (D), elected 1986 while Ronald Reagan (R) was president.
Gov. Dick Thornburgh (R), elected 1978 while Jimmy Carter (D) was president.
Gov. Milton Shapp (D), elected 1970 while Richard Nixon (R) was president.
Gov. Ray Shafer (R), elected 1966 while Lyndon Johnson (D) was president.
Gov. Bill Scranton (R), elected 1962 while John F. Kennedy (D) was president.
Gov. David Lawrence (D), elected 1958 while Dwight Eisenhower (R) was president.
Gov. George Leader (D), elected in 1954 while Dwight Eisenhower (R) was president.
Gov. John Fine (R), elected in 1950 while Harry Truman (D) was president.
Gov. James Duff (R), elected in 1946 while Harry Truman (D) was president.
Gov. Edward Martin (R), elected in 1942 while Franklin Roosevelt (D) was president.
Gov. Arthur James (R), elected in 1938 while Franklin Roosevelt (D) was president.
You have to go all the way back to 1934, when Democrat George Earle was elected governor during FDR’s administration, to see a break in this trend. As far as trends go, it’s remarkably reliable.
On the other hand, in the last five presidential elections, going back to 1992, Pennsylvania has gone for Democratic presidential candidates, regardless of the party holding the state house.
This twenty-year trend in presidential elections is the reason why Pennsylvania today is considered a “blue leaning” state.
It appears, however, at this writing, that President Barack Obama is opening his lead in Pennsylvania polls.
Whether Obama has coattails, and can sweep Democrats from the commonwealth with him to Congress, remains to be seen.
The political skills, strength, and coattails of Gov. Tom Corbett will also be tested.
Will Corbett’s personal choice for attorney general, David Freed, become the fifth consecutive Republican elected since the creation of the office in 1980? Or will Democrat Kathleen Kane break the trend?
Most interestingly, will Gov. Corbett’s gambit to suppress the urban Democratic vote by passing a voter photo ID law backfire on Corbett by preventing droves of older, upstate Republicans without proper IDs from voting, precipitating an avoidable uproar of Corbett’s own making?