Let's take a look at one PA House race in the November elections, and drill down through the numbers a bit. My apologies for the presentation of the statistics -- I haven't quite figured out how to post a spreadsheet in a blog post.
The district we are looking at is the 146th state house district, recently won by Mark Painter with a slim margin, 50.33%. I wrote a few posts about Painter when he ran the first time in 2010 and then again this year, but I didn't follow the campaign closely and do not recall meeting him in person.
To provide some context the turnout numbers for each township in the Montgomery County district are given for the 2008 race between incumbent Republican Tom Quigley and Democratic challenger James Prendergast (abbreviated as Prender), the 2010 race between Quigley and Painter, and the 2012 re-match. In the text accompanying each year's township statistics, I'll prove some additional text about turnout in other races for that area.
This is not particularly entrancing data but hopefully it will be informative. When the vote numbers don't quite add up there is either a third party candidate, write in votes, or both. You can review the numbers yourself, for verification or further research on the Montgomery County election results site.
The 146th contains part or all of seven townships or muncipalities. Let's take them alphabetically.
All of Limerick is in the 146th. In 2008 John McCain (R) received 46% of the vote and Congressman Gerlach (R) received 61%. Quigley (R) received 62%, so he outperformed John McCain by a considerable amount and Gerlach by just over 1%. In 2010 Quigley won with 60% of the vote, a lower percentage than Gerlach (66%) and Republican State Senator John Rafferty (66%). In 2012 Quigley received 54% of the Limerick vote, compared with 58% for Gerlach and 52% for Mitt Romney. You can see that the vote was split far more evenly in 2012 than it was in either 2008 or 2012 in the state house race. Painter is the elected tax collector for Limerick and significantly cut into the Republican's vote total, making it almost even by 2012. The huge turnout for Obama in 2008 didn't impact the down ticket races as Quigley received a higher percentage of the votes in 2008 election in Limerick than he did in 2012. The question is, will the erosion of Republic votes in this area continue or is it a phenomenon related specific to Painter?
Like Limerick, Quigley won this area (55%) but by a lower percentage than he did in 2010 (62%) and in 2008 (57%). Obama won with 55% in 2008 and 50% in 2012. It is difficult to make comparisons the congressional races as Lower Pottsgrove was part of the 15th district in 2008 and 2010 but had shifted to the 6th in 2012. Looking solely at the state house race, there is a consistent erosion of Republican votes, though the percentages bounce around a little.
New Hanover, like Lower Pottsgrove, shifted from one congressional district to another after the 2012 redistricting. It is also split between two state house districts. The 146th has about a third of the voters in the township. Looking solely at the percentages in that race, Quigley received 64% of the vote in 2008, 63% in 2010, but only 58% in 2012. Again, there is an erosion of Republican voters over the four year period.
All of Pottstown is in the 146th state house district, and remained in the 6th congressional district. In presidential politics, Barack Obama won Pottstown with 69% in 2008 but only 65% in 2012. Democratic candidates in the congressional races also did well in Pottstown, Bob Roggio received 61% of the vote in 2008, Manan Trivedi 54% in 2010, and 62% in the 2012 rematch. By comparison, Prendergast won with 61% in 2008, Painter 55% in 2010, and 62% in 2012. While Obama's vote total went down in 2012, the state house and congressional districts mirrored each other in win percentages.
Royersford shifted from one congressional district to another but has only one state house district. As with Pottstown, Obama's percentage decreased, from 61% in 2008 to 58% in 2012. Painter, by contrast gained voters. Quigley won with 53% in 2008, 56% in his first race with Painter in 2010, but lost when Painter took 52% of the vote in 2012.
Here also Painter's percentage increased (36% in 2010 to 43% in 2012, compared to Prendergasts 41% in 2008). Again, Obama lost votes, receiving 54% of the vote in 2008 and 49% in 2012. Upper Pottsgrove was moved from the 15th congressional district to the 6th congressional district in 2012.
This area also shifted from the 15th congressional district to the 6th. In presidential elections, Obama won with 61% of the vote in 2008 and 54% in 2012. In contrast, Prendergast received 51% of the vote in 2008, Painter 45% in 2010, but rared back in 2012 with 52%.
While Painter certainly did well in areas where other Democrats did well, his percentage of votes frequently increased, not only compared to his own 2010 showing but also to the turnout in 2008, even while the President's percentage of the votes decreased. Looking at the absolute numbers, there is clearly a shift; it was not simply a matter of different in the number of voters coming out. The turnout numbers were not always that different, but more people were voting for Painter.