Saturday, October 20, 2018

Losses in Registered Democrats have Accelerated Since 2016 for Cambria and Somerset Counties (PA)

Cambria County used to be a reliable county for Democrats.  This was especially true for Democratic Presidential candidates from 1960 to 2000.  Pundits were shocked when in 2016 Donald Trump won the county with 66% of the vote.  .  For one year after there were several documentary filmmakers (including Katie Couric for National Geographic and Gary Younge from the Guardian) working on projects in the county trying to figure out why it switched so abruptly to the GOP and what the area needed.  The question remains what has happened there since 2016?  Voter registration numbers can provide clues to the mood of the voters before the votes are counted.

Katie Couric came to Cambria County in 2017 to see what has changed
Cambria County
% Change ’14-‘18
% Change ’14-‘16
% Change ’16-‘18
*2017 estimates

The table above first appeared in the website Darply and has been updated with new information. shows the voter registration data by party for Cambria County for November 2014, 2016, and 2018 with estimated population data for the county from the Census Bureau for comparison.  From 2014 to 2018, there was a 14.7% decrease in registered Democrats, a 21.1% increase in registered Republicans, and a 3.5% increase those registered with other parties or independent.  When we look more closely at the numbers, we see the gains for the Republicans mostly occurred between 2014 and 2016 while losses for the Democrats and those registered as other have increased after 2016.  These losses are larger relative to changes in the county's population.

Somerset County
% Change ’14-‘18
% Change ’14-‘16
% Change ’16-‘18
*2017 estimates

For comparison I looked at the registration numbers for Somerset County which is directly to the south of Cambria over the same period in local and Presidential elections.  Since at least 1956 it has been a reliable county for Republicans.  Overall there was a 17% decrease in registered Democrats from 2014-2018 with a 10.6% increase in registered Republicans and a 3.1% increase in other voters.  Before the 2016 election, there was a 12.6% increase in registered Republicans with a 1.8% decrease afterward.  For the Democrats there was a 6.1% decrease from 2014-2016 but an 11.6% decrease from 2016-2018.  For voters registered as outside the two parties there was a 7.2% increase from 2014-2016 with a 3.8% decrease in the next period.  Like Cambria County, these changes have outpaced changes in population numbers.  

The decrease in registered voters for Democrats for both counties could be bad news for Democrats running for office there this year.  Likewise, the decrease in gains for Repubicans since 2016 is not terrible news but may not signify a red wave for them.  However voter registration does not always correspond to they way that people vote.  The Democrats in Cambria County had a registration advantave of roughly 13,000 in 2016 but lost the county by about 23,000 votes to Trump.

**Related Posts**

Election Epilogue

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Social Media for the Lindsey Williams/Jeremy Shaffer State Senate Race

On September 29, at the Homecoming parade for Shaler High School I met Lyndsey Williams who is running for the PA State Senate post for district 38.  This is a district once held by Jim Ferlo who was an outspoken advocate for single payer/medicare for all for decades.  In 2014 his district was redrawn to include much of the north hills above Pittsburgh which was traditionally Republican to drive him out of office.  It worked.  He stepped down and was replaced by Republican Randy Vulakovich.

Last may Vulakovich lost the primary for his seat to Jeremy Shaffer by 59-41%.  Shaffer is now facing Democrat Lindsey Williams.  Attention has been paid to this race as Shaffer's campaign has been running ads and distributing fake yard signs to label Williams a socialist in the same vain as Lenin.  She admits to joining the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) but did not receive their endorsement.

I thought I would take a look at what impact this "socialist" attack strategy is having on the race.  As there normally are no public polls for state Senate races I thought I would take a look at the candidates social media followings as a proxy for the strength of their campaigns.  In my last post I recorded the Facebook and Twitter followings for candidates in nine races Cambria County as I did in 2016.  Back then Facebook followings in these predicted the winner in eight of the nine races considered.  As of this writing, Williams has 1,522 followers on her campaign Facebook page and 1,339 on her campaign Twitter page.  Jeremy Shaffer has 2,034 followers on Facebook and 193 on Twitter.  

Usually candidates don't go negative on their opponents unless they see them as a threat.  I don't know what their followings were before this negative campaign began.  These numbers will have to be updated before the election to give a clearer picture of the "socialist" ads impact.  She has told her supporters to leave those yard ads alone so she may not see them as a serious threat.

I do have a new article published on Darply looking at changes in voter registration in Cambria County since the 2014 and 2016 elections.  I encourage you all to check it out.


PA Election 2018: Will Facebook and Twitter Followings Predict Winners?