Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

Democrats inch closer to flipping the Pennsylvania House

Illustration of the Pennsylvania state capitol over a divided red and blue background featuring elements of ballots.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Bill Noll/Getty Images

Democrats are poised to make large gains in the Pennsylvania House following Tuesday's election, potentially threatening Republicans' long-held majority.

Why it matters: Republicans have controlled the state House since 2011 and the Senate since the mid-1990s, resulting in divided governments, most recently under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for the past eight years.

  • Tuesday marked the first election using new state legislative maps, which reworked district lines for the 253-member General Assembly.
  • The mapmakers say the new boundaries, put in place once a decade, are more equitable than previous ones, which were heavily tilted toward Republicans.

State of play: The Legislature — which passes the state's $45 billion budget — has sway over nearly every aspect of life in the state, including abortion access, education funding and gun laws.

  • If Democrats win a majority in the state House, they could help advance Democratic governor-elect Josh Shapiro's agenda next year.
  • If the GOP maintains majorities in the General Assembly, the party could push through a series of constitutional amendments to bypass Shapiro's veto pen. Among the proposals: voter ID requirements and explicitly stating there's no right to an abortion in the state constitution.

By the numbers: As of Wednesday, House Republicans were projected to win 96 seats compared to 99 for Democrats, with eight races still too close to call, per The Associated Press.

  • Republicans were projected to maintain their majority in the 50-member state Senate, the AP reported.

Catch up fast: Republicans currently hold a 113-90 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and 28-21 in the Senate.

  • All 203 members in the state House were up for re-election, along with half the Senate.

What they're saying: State House Democrats credited the new legislative maps for projections they flipped the chamber during a Wednesday news conference outside Philadelphia's Independence Hall.

  • Rep. Leanne Krueger predicted that Democrats would win at least 102 seats, a net gain of 12 to give them a razor thin majority of a single seat.
  • "We've seen all the numbers come in," said state Rep. Jordan Harris. "We've won seats that people didn't think we would be able to take in this cycle."

The other side: Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for the state House GOP, did not return a request for comment.

What's ahead: David Dix, a political strategist, told Axios the new legislative map was propelling Democratic wins in the House in this election, and could lead to Republicans losing more seats in the coming years.

  • "When you look at the General Assembly races, you can really see there was a 'blue wave,'" he said.

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