Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: Pennsylvania Congressional Seats

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October 29, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional team

Alabama's Congressional Elections in 2012
U.S. Senate Election? U.S. House seats Possible competitive races?
Yes 18 5

HARRISBURG: Pennsylvania: There are 18 U.S. House seats and 1 U.S. Senate seat on the ballot in Pennsylvania in 2012. Heading into general election on November 6, 2012, all 19 (100%) of the congressional races are contested, meaning there are at least two candidates running for each seat. Although 19 U.S. House incumbents filed for re-election this year, only 17 will advance to the November ballot. Redistricting cost Democratic incumbents Tim Holden (D-17) and Jason Altmire (of the former 5th District) their party's nomination in the primary election, which took place on April 24, 2012.[1]

In Pennsylvania, all polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Eastern Time.[2]

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times (2012)

U.S. Senate

Incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D) is running for re-election in 2012. Casey was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, when he unseated future Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. Casey has enjoyed high approval ratings throughout his first term in Congress. His popularity has withstood the impact of fluctuations in President Obama's standing within the party, and his conservative positions on issues like gun control and abortion lend him cross-over appeal from Independents and Republicans, as indicated by polling data heading into November's general election.[3]

Casey was unopposed in the Democratic primary election on April 24, but will face two challengers in the general election, including Republican businessman Tom Smith.[4] Smith, a Tea Party devotee, defeated a handful of candidates for his party's nomination in the primary, and is estimated to pose a modest threat to Casey's re-election: The final stretch of Smith's largely self-financed campaign has been built around a "bombardment" of TV spots criticizing Casey's record on economic stimulus and job creation.[5] Smith outraised and outspent Casey by a tremendous margin in the third quarter campaign finance reports.[6][7][8] In early October, Smith's momentum looked to be either gaining or diminishing on account of contradicting polls and race projections. The Cook Political Report down-shifted its rating from likely Democratic to leaning Democratic in October and a poll from Muhlenberg College showed Casey's lead narrowing to two points over Smith.[9] Almost simultaneously, a Public Policy Poll was released showing Casey ahead 50-39, the widest margin seen since August.[3] The incongruities continue to manifest in the final week of October, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee throwing an additional $500,000 into eleventh-hour political advertising for Smith right as the latest survey from Rasmussen Reports, conducted October 24th by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC, showed Casey leading Smith 46-45 with 9 percent undecided and +/- 4.5% margin of error- a statistical dead heat.[10]

State General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
Pennsylvania Class 1 Senate seat Democratic Party Bob Casey, Jr.
Republican Party Tom Smith
Libertarian Party Rayburn Smith
Bob Casey, Jr. Pending Pending

U.S. House

Heading into the November 6 election, the Republican Party held13 of the 19 Congressional seats from Pennsylvania. However, the state lost one seat after the 2010 Census reapportionment and will elect 18 representatives. Of the 36 possible major party primaries (2 parties, 18 seats), only 10 (28%) were contested, well below the national average. The remaining 18 party primaries contained only one candidate (or none at all). Highlights from the April 24th primaries include:

The Washington Post listed the House of Representatives elections in Pennsylvania in 2012 as one of the 10 states that could determine whether Democrats would retake the House or Republicans would hold their majority in 2013.[12] Ohio tied with Pennsylvania for 9th on the list.[12]

Here is a complete list of U.S. House candidates appearing on the general election ballot in Pennsylvania:


According to the New York Times race ratings in October 2012, 4 of the 18 districts are considered to be in play. Those are the 6th, 7th, 8th and 12th districts.[13]

  • District 6 is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach is challenged by Manan Trivedi (D) in a rematch of the 2010 election. Democrats have been trying to oust Gerlach for years, but have thus far been unsuccessful. Unfortunately for them it will be even harder this year as Gerlach's district has become more conservative due to redistricting.[14] The district has been included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List," which identifies districts that the organization has specifically targeted to flip from Republican to Democratic control.[15]
  • District 7 incumbent Patrick Meehan (R) is challenged by George Badey (D) in a more conservative district than the one he was elected to in 2010. The district is Leaning Republican according to the New York Times It was originally rated as Leaning Republican by The Cook Political Report as well but changed the month before the general election.[16][17] has been included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List," which identifies districts that the organization has specifically targeted to flip from Republican to Democratic control.[18]
  • District 8 Republican incumbent Michael G. Fitzpatrick is challenged by Kathryn Boockvar (D) in a slightly more conservative district than before. Democrats believe they have a strong candidate in Boockvar, who is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue list.[19] The district is rated as Leaning Republican according to the New York Times summer 2012 race projections; In October, The Cook Political Report rated is as Democratic toss-up while the Daily Kos moved it from Leaning Republican to Likely Republican in reaction to a reduction in campaign advertising for both candidates, among other factors.[20][21]
  • District 12 is considered to be a Tossup according to race ratings from New York Times and The Cook Political Report, most recently updated October 25th. Democratic incumbent Mark Critz is challenged by Keith Rothfus (R) who narrowly lost in 2010.
Members of the U.S. House from Pennsylvania-- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 6 5
     Republican Party 13 13
Total 19 18

This is a map of the congressional districts of Pennsylvania before and after the 2010 redistricting. The image also includes the partisan breakdown of the districts that are close in registration figures.


See also



  1. Huffington Post, "Pennsylvania Primary: Blue Dog Democrats Lose Seats," April 24, 2012
  2. Pennsylvania Votes, "Frequently Asked Questions"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Public Policy Poll, "Obama and Casey lead in Pennsylvania," October 15, 2012
  4. Pennsylvania Independent, "Incumbents fall in PA House, congressional races," April 24, 2012
  5. Majority PAC, "Reinforcing Strong Democratic Campaigns in North Dakota, Pennsylvania," October 23, 2012
  6. Federal Election Commission, "Bob Casey October Quarterly Report," October 15, 2012
  7. Federal Election Commission, "Tom Smith October Quarterly Report," October 15, 2012
  8. Tom Smith for Senate Press Release, "Smith outraises Casey, more cash on hand," October 15, 2012
  9. The Cook Political Report, "Senate: Race Ratings," October 4, 2012
  10. Rasmussen Reports, "Election 2012: Pennsylvania Senate," October 26, 2012
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named huffpost
  12. 12.0 12.1 Washington Post, "The 10 states that will determine control of the House in 2012," accessed April 25, 2012
  13. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed July 25, 2012
  14. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed August 10, 2012
  15. DCCC, "Red to Blue 2012"
  16. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed August 10, 2012
  17. The Cook Political Report, "Recent race ratings changes," October 11, 2012
  18. DCCC, "Red to Blue 2012"
  19. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed August 10, 2012
  20. Daily Kos, "House Ratings 2012," October 5, 2012
  21. The Cook Political Report, "House:Race Ratings," October 11, 2012