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Republican Pat Toomey (L), Democrat Joe Sestak, candidates for Senate in PA. (Associated Press)

Pennsylvania 'May Not Be As Bad For Democrats As We Thought'

Oct 4, 2010

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A lot of eyes have been on Pennsylvania this year, because polls have been showing that in at least five of the state's Congressional districts — and maybe a few more — Democrats are in danger of losing their jobs.

One veteran observer of Keystone State politics, though, tells NPR's Don Gonyea that "it may not be as bad for Democrats as we thought months ago." (As Frank wrote this afternoon, that's an argument that Democratic Party officials are trying to make on a national basis too. But, as Frank also noted, "instead of one of those 100-foot monster waves that wipes out Democratic majorities it may be a smaller 30-footer, still capable of doing damage but not devastating.")

According to G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA:

— "Democrats have a lot of money in Pennsylvania and they're spending it profusely."

— "Unlike 1994, when the difficulty crept up on the Democrats (and they lost control of Congress) ... now they are full cognizant that they are in deep trouble" and are working hard to head it off.

— "The Republicans cannot yet be secure that Pennsylvania will be completely in their column on Nov. 2."

Here's a sound bite of Madonna making that case:

As we said earlier, Don recently went to Pennsylvania to talk to voters there. And he checked in on Madonna, who directs the Franklin & Marshall College Poll — a survey voters in the state.

Madonna also told Don that:

— The Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey, a former congressman, and Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak is an "ideological dogfight." Sestak, he says, "wants to one-up the president" by going even more "liberal" on many issues. The, "on the right, we have Pat Toomey, who hasn't found a single element in the Obama program he likes."

— In the state's 11th congressional district, Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski "would have a tough contest in good times, and now it's bad times for the Democrats." He's facing, for the third time, Republican Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazleton, PA.

— "We have hundreds of little Tea Parties in Pennsylvania," but they have not "galvanized" around one candidate. Instead, "they are making the Republican base very enthusiastic."

There's much more from Don's reporting trip to Pennsylvania on today's edition of All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts and/or streams the show.

Contributing: Thomas Dreisbach

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