Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pennsylvania Senate - Sestak vs. Toomey

Here's Real Clear Politics' take on the Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak.

When Arlen Specter was born in 1930, Pennsylvania had 36 Congressional districts. All of them save for one – the 12th – elected Republicans. When Specter first entered public life it was a very different Pennsylvania: The western part of the state was heavily unionized and Democratic, the Philadelphia Republican machine had disappeared, and Republican strength was found in the Philly suburbs (including northeast Philly) and the mountainous interior of the state.

Today, the state is different once again. The Philly suburbs have moved toward the Democrats, while Pittsburgh has moved toward the Republicans. The Republican Party has changed as well; it is a more conservative entity, one that is much less welcoming toward liberal Republicans such as Specter. Specter left the Party in mid-2009 to avoid a primary challenge from Pat Toomey, only to lose the Democratic Primary to Congressman Joe Sestak.

The race between Toomey and Sestak is a study in contrasts. Both men represented areas in Congress that at least nominally favored the other party. Both are from the eastern portion of the state, leaving the west up for grabs. In a normal year, Sestak would probably win – Toomey’s economic conservatism isn’t a great match for this economically populist state. But in this year of tea parties, the more salient factor in the general election may be Sestak’s support of the Obama administration’s spending

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