May 18 2010

Critz Burns Burns in PA-12 – But Dem Voters Switched To GOP

Published by at 9:42 pm under 2010 Elections,All General Discussions

The one election I hoped would be the exclamation point on this year’s election fell short. This is not going to be a sure thing for November, but the tsunami rising against the Dems is not as high as one would hope. With 74% of the precincts reporting Critz is over Burns by 54% to 43%.  Can the GOP win in  November? Yes.  But they need to field solid candidates.

OK, so the one prediction I wanted failed. But as usual, I failed by overestimating the power of the GOP or Tea Party, not by underestimating its draw. A lesson that must be learned for November.

Addendum: MarkN and other readers note in the comments that PA has closed primaries. Burns did win the primary, if not the special election. So this fall it will be Critz & Burns again – this time with the independents in the mix.

A few quick calculations can be quite enlightening here. From the election results we find:

  • 1,045,520 people voted in the democrat senate primary (56%)
  • 818,604 people voted in the less contested republican senate primary (44%)
  • 82,695 people voted in the PA-12 democrat congressional primary (64%)
  • 45,777 people voted in the PA-12 republican congressional district (36%)
  • 71,684 people voted for Critz (D) in the PA-12 special election (53.4%)
  • 59,476 people voted for Burns (R) in the PA-12 special election (44.3)

So what is the effect of the lack of independent or non-affiliated voters on PA-12? Well we know John McCain actually won this district in 2008 instead of Barack Obama – so that indicates those voters are not likely to be hard core democrat voters.

But more importantly there were two simultaneous races in PA-12, one for the special and one for the primary. Total voters between the two races was within 2%, so basically the same turnout with the special election having a few thousand voters higher in number. Burns and Critz won in their respective primaries, but there were far fewer voters in the GOP primary than in the Dem (36-64% of primary voters). What is interesting is how these primary voters filled out their vote for the special election because a huge number of democrat primary voters switched sides and voted for Burns in the special (44-53%).

Now isn’t that interesting. More people voted GOP in the special than in the primary, which means a lot of Democrats split their ticket and voted GOP. The GOP saw a 30% increase in vote totals between the primary and the special. A very interesting a rare opportunity to see voter preferences change based on the context of their vote.

If we assume the independents in PA-12 are trending the same way independents are nationally (anti-democrat) then I would say Critz is in trouble for November. While the 2010 wave did not appear clearly in PA-12, the view of it was hidden because the closed primary did not include the independents. Even so, there was significant Democrat loss in support between the primary and the special – by the same voters on the same day!

23 responses so far

23 Responses to “Critz Burns Burns in PA-12 – But Dem Voters Switched To GOP”

  1. MarkN says:

    Joest73: I didn’t know you were a PA-12 resident. The Cambria County Republican Party needs new leadership. Maybe the Tea Party can start a chapter there. Gleason needs to be fired as the PA republican party chief and Mr. Pasquerilla needs to work for Burns election in November. Burns got killed in Cambria County.

    BTW, the party registration in PA-12 is 63D – 29R – 9I. There are not very many idependents in the district. One has to wonder how McCain won in 2008.

    Looking back, the turnout in 2006 was around 205K and in 2008 it was around 270K. I would think that the 2010 turnout would be closer to the 205K seen in 2006. What is your sense of turnout in November?

  2. MarkN says:

    Fat fingers 62D. I mistyped or my fingers just lied.

  3. joest73 says:


    Well I, like many other people had to relocate to another part of PA. All of my family is still in Johnstown though.

    Back when the late Bill Joseph was leader of the Democratic party in Cambria County the joke was that Joseph had to do little work because the local republican leader Gleason did all of the work for him.

    Turnout should be about the same as 2006 levels. The Toomey-Sestak race will bring voters out.

    Another local joke…. The only Republicans that win are the ones that became Democrats.

    McCain winning in the district isn’t a surprise. The same people that felt the pressure to vote for Murtha to keep the Defense pork coming in also voted for McCain for the same reason.