After last night’s victory on the judicial benches, Pennsylvania is starting the process of becoming a blue state. Democrats swept the three open supreme court seats and turned the from a divided 2-2 court to a 5-2 court. The impacts of last night’s election may not be felt overnight, but it will be felt in the long run. For at least the next decade, a Democratic court will decided on women’s reproductive health issues, environmental issues, labor issues, education issues and, most importantly, gerrymandering.
In order to keep the maps the way they are in 2020 and beyond, Republicans needed to win last night’s election and they would have to beat Governor Tom Wolf in 2020. Last night, it didn’t happen for the Republicans. Instead, Democrats delivered their second statewide election landslide in two years. Governor Corbett was defeated by a ten point margin in 2014 and the top three Democrats took home 57 percent of the vote to the Republicans forty percent.
If things couldn’t get worse for Republicans, Jake Corman’s home county got caught up in the mix. Centre county flipped their Board of County Commissioners and swept the five major judicial elections.
This election victory has laid the groundwork for restoring sanity in the General Assembly. Governor Wolf will have to win in 2018 to keep the Republicans from controlling the House, Senate and Governor’s office and to have a say in the redrawing of the 2020 maps. With control of the courts, Democrats will have control of the bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission. The commission is represented by two republicans and two democrats with a Supreme Court appointee.
On the county level, last night’s elections were enormous. Sure, there still are and will always be Republican strongholds throughout the outreaches of the Philadelphia Five County region, but last night should be a warning sing for Republicans. Judith Olson was the only Republican judge to crack into the leaders bracket in the region, and that was in Chester County. In every county, Democrats swept or took two of three. The same can be said about the Lehigh Valley, which is another part of the state that has witnessed demographic transitions and a boom in its urban areas. The three Democrats swept Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties. The eastern half of Pennsylvania is on it’s way to becoming a solid blue wall for Republicans to deal with.
The Democrats were able to turnout the vote. There was a mayoral election happening in Philadelphia and the three judicial nominees were beneficiaries to large sums of money. They were able out raise their opponents by a three to one margin making the race the most expensive State Supreme Court election in United State history. These factors were probably a contributing factor to the victories, but it should still be noted that Democrats delivered a landslide defeat in a historic off year election.