Pennsylvania's Adventures In Redistricting And How They Could Impact Midterms

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Fair Districts PA organizer Rich Rafferty points to a spot in the old PA-07 district in Montgomery County. The old PA-07 was considered a poster child for gerrymandering. (Alex Schroeder/On Point)
Fair Districts PA organizer Rich Rafferty points to a spot in the old PA-07 in Montgomery County. The district was just as wide as a restaurant parking lot at that point on the map. The old PA-07 was considered a poster child for gerrymandering. (Alex Schroeder/On Point)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Reporting from WHYY in Philadelphia, Meghna and her guests will discuss redistricting in Pennsylvania ahead of the midterms.


Lindsay Lazarksi, multimedia journalist for WHYY and Keystone Crossroads. (@llazarski)

Terry Madonna, professor of public affairs and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. (@terrymadonna)

From The Reading List

WHYY: "In boost for Democrats, Pa. Supreme Court dramatically overhauls state’s congressional map" — "In a decision which could have national ramifications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has enacted a new congressional district map that onlookers say is much more favorable to Democrats, replacing one the court overturned and deemed an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander last month.

"Justices described the new map in their 48-page decision as 'superior or comparable' to other proposals filed for their consideration. It’s more compact, they wrote, and splits only 13 counties and 19 municipalities. That’s fewer than half the number of county splits and far less municipal splits than the 2011 map, which was drawn in a process controlled by Republicans.

"The court’s version also splits fewer counties than the proposals it received in the past 10 days from Gov. Tom Wolf, GOP leaders, and House and Senate Democrats. The recent proposal from GOP leaders, though, split two fewer municipalities."

Bloomberg: "Pennsylvania Offers a Key Midterm Test for Trumpism" — "Inside the headquarters of the Republican Committee of Chester County, Pa., a Bush-Cheney poster hangs behind Executive Director Thomas Donohue’s desk. A second poster praises 'Fiscally Responsible Republican Leadership.'

"It’s a testament to the fact that Pennsylvania’s most affluent and educated county, home to quaint Philadelphia suburbs, embraces a more traditional flavor of Republicanism. Donohue—a polite millennial in khakis and boat shoes, like a quintessential ambassador for the old guard—says the party is pushing a 'bottom-up' approach ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, focusing on popular local candidates.

"Conservatives are on the defensive in Chester, as they are across Pennsylvania. Donald Trump won the state by just 44,000 votes, turning it red for the first time since 1988. But the momentum is shifting: After a court-mandated redistricting tipped the scale toward Democrats, they appear to have a shot at four or five open or Republican House seats here. The results in Pennsylvania will go a long way toward determining which party ultimately controls the House next year.

"That will hinge, in part, on how voters in Pennsylvania’s two-track economy view the Republican agenda. Conservatives in eastern swing districts are keeping their distance from a president who plays poorly with their affluent and educated constituents. Western Pennsylvania Republicans in tight races are embracing Trump’s policies, which appeal to Rust Belt voters, but Democrats are punching back with centrist, blue-collar appeal.

New York Times: "We polled voters in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District." — "This district’s map was redrawn to a bluer shade. We made calls 23,562, and 539 people spoke to us.

"Given expectations, our poll is a good result for Democrats. But remember: It’s just one poll, and we talked to only 539 people. Each candidate’s total could easily be five points different if we polled everyone in the district. And having a small sample is only one possible source of error."

This program aired on October 8, 2018.


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