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Pennsylvania: Blue Flip

Senate: 21 Democrats, 28 Republicans, 1 Ind. | To Flip Blue: 4 Seats
House: 93 Democrats, 110 Republicans | To Flip Blue: 9 Seats

To flip these chambers, Democrats need to win 4 Senate seats and 9 House seats. Momentum is on our side: in 2018, Democrats broke a Republican supermajority in the Senate and flipped a dozen State House seats. We can build on this energy to flip at least one chamber in 2020.

Flipping a chamber would give Democrats a critical seat at the redistricting table, particularly for Congressional redistricting. Republican state legislators have brutally gerrymandered PA’s Congressional districts. And the political commission in PA that draws state legislative maps has also permitted terribly gerrymandered maps. As an example, in 2018, PA’s Democratic State House candidates received 54% of the vote, but only won 45% of the seats. We can prevent this from happening again by flipping a chamber and ensuring that Democrats have a voice in the next round of redistricting.

Flipping a chamber blue is especially important because the PA Governor does not have veto power over state legislative maps. So while Democratic Governor Wolf will be in office during the next round of redistricting, we’ll still need Democratic control of a chamber to have a say in the outcome.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the PA state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

Fast Facts

  • Current Control: Divided. Governor – D; Senate – R; House – R
  • Gubernatorial Election: Not up in 2020
  • Length of State Senate Terms: 4 years
  • Length of State House Terms: 2 years
  • Candidate Filing Deadline: February 18, 2020
  • State Legislative Primary Date: June 2, 2020 (subject to further delay)
  • Redistricting: State legislature controls Congressional redistricting, Political Commission controls state legislative redistricting; Governor has veto over Congressional maps but not state legislative maps
  • Electoral College Votes: 20

Broader 2020 Opportunities

  • Pennsylvania is a critical, perennial battleground presidential state. Before Trump won the state by 44,000 votes, or less than 1%, Pennsylvanians had voted for the Democratic Presidential nominee in every election since 1992. Pennsylvania is one of the “Big Four” states that are likely to control the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to claim PA’s 20 Electoral College votes this year, with smart organizing, expanding the electorate through voter registration, and turnout efforts.
  • There are also several important, very competitive Congressional races in PA this year (including PA-10, PA-08, and PA-01, PA-07, PA-17, and PA-16).
  • Working to support PA state legislative candidates will be instrumental in helping drive turnout up and down the ticket in this historic election year.

Population Demographics



Median Age


Male | Female

48.9 % | 51.1%

Racial Diversity

White: 80.85%; Black: 11.13%; Asian: 3.35%; Two+ races: 2.43%; Other: 2.02%

2016 Election

Hillary Clinton

Votes: 2,926,441
Percentage: 47.46%
Electoral Votes: 0

Donald Trump

Votes: 2,970,733
Percentage: 48.18%
Electoral Votes: 20

District Lines

According to Ballotpedia, In Pennsylvania, the statutory authority to draw congressional district boundaries is vested with the Pennsylvania General Assembly. These lines are subject to gubernatorial veto.

State legislative district lines are drawn by a politician commission. Established in 1968, the commission comprises five members:

  1. The majority leader of the Pennsylvania State Senate appoints one member.
  2. The minority leader of the Pennsylvania State Senate appoints one member.
  3. The majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives appoints one member.
  4. The minority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives appoints one member.
  5. The first four commissioners appoint a fifth member to serve as the commission’s chair. If the commission is unable to reach an agreement, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court must appoint a commission chair.

The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that state legislative districts be contiguous and compact. Further, state legislative districts should “respect county, city, incorporated town, borough, township and ward boundaries.” There are no such requirements in place for congressional districts.

Pennsylvania House Districts


Pennsylvania Senate Districts

PA District 7


Mike Turzai was the Republican State House Majority Leader in Pennsylvania in 2011, and he presided over a piece of legislative which remapped the state. Under his guidance, Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District was packed to create a heavily Democratic district, resulting in an odd shape that specifically excluded certain areas (packing). Cracking then left southeastern Pennsylvania with one solidly Democratic district, the 13th, and artificially created as many as three predictably Republican districts in a region which was majority Democratic.

Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District was one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, before the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 2018. The district gained national notoriety as one of the most obvious efforts to gerrymander. The 7th District was so egregious that it earned a nickname, based on the cartoon characters it resembled: “Goofy Kicking Donald

The net result of Mike Turzai and the GOP’s manipulations was a state which voted majority Democrat, but which sent thirteen Republicans to Congress and only five Democrats. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled, after three elections conducted under this travesty, that the 2011 district maps were illegally partisan, and when the state’s legislature could not agree on new district boundaries, the Court provided districts of its own.

New Voter ID Restrictions

from the Brennan Center 2019 Report:
On January 22, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional district map, finding that the map constituted an illegal partisan gerrymander. On February 19, 2018, the court adopted a remedial map for use in the 2018 election cycle. Pennsylvania Republicans filed suit in federal district court to prevent implementation of the new map. The district court dismissed the suit on March 19, 2018. State Republicans also petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to stay the state supreme court’s order pending appeal. The court rejected this request on March 19, 2018.

District locations and numbers differ between the two maps. The map adopted by the state supreme court split 13 counties; the 2011 map split 28 counties. Had the 2018 map been in place during the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) would have won 10 districts and Hillary Clinton (D) would have won eight. In 2016, at which time the 2011 map was in place, Trump carried 12 districts to Clinton’s six.

On March 20, 2018, Rep. Cris Dush (R) introduced impeachment resolutions against the four justices who signed onto the decision adopting the new map. Dush argued that the justices, all Democrats, had exceeded their authority by imposing a new district map, an action that, Dush argued, is the prerogative of the legislative and executive branches.

Our Pennsylvania Candidates

Julie Slomski
Senate District 49

Deb Ciamacca
House District 168

Jonathan Kassa
House District 151

Brittney Rodas
House District 105

Nancy Guenst
House District 152

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