A political realignment in PA: Despite recent Dem wins, the GOP is gaining momentum, analysts say

Top political analysts in Pennsylvania say the state is in the midst of a major demographic and electoral shift, which is likely to prove beneficial for the GOP. According to the latest figures coming out of the commonwealth, Republicans gained more than 10,000 new registrants in the last two months.

An analysis of data from the Pennsylvania Department of State conducted by the news outlets PoliticsPA and SpotlightPA found Pennsylvania’s running totals of Republican registrants as of mid-May had increased nearly 11,000 since March 29. Democratic rolls lost about 4,600, and nearly 20,000 Democrats have decided to switch parties or re-register as independent or third-party voters.

Up until recently, Pennsylvania could be counted on for flipping its gubernatorial seat every two terms and has showcased a diverse range of U.S. senators, from the conservative Rick Santorum to the late Arlen Specter, who famously switched from Republican to Democrat. Political strategists said the latest figures show the GOP may have a lot to celebrate in November despite recent Democratic dominance.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro upset that gubernatorial trend when he defeated retired Army Col. and state Sen. Doug Mastriano in 2022 to succeed fellow Democrat Tom Wolf. And former President Trump failed to repeat the upset win he notched in 2016 while running against President Biden in 2020.


However, the numbers tell the true tale, said Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvania political strategist and former vice chairman of the American Conservative Union.

“Republicans have been gaining on the Democrats in Pennsylvania for a number of years, and the gap right now is very narrow,” Gerow said, noting how Democrats once outnumbered Republicans by 1 million in the commonwealth.


When asked about recent Republican losses in light of Democrats’ declining registration advantage, Gerow said campaigns and registration figures have their differences.

“I have good news for the folks wringing their hands [about the Democrats’ recent successes]. [With] Donald Trump and David McCormick, Republicans are going to have a lot to celebrate.”

Gerow predicts McCormick will defeat Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., who observers said in 2012 was helped into office by the name recognition and aisle-crossing popularity of his late father, former Gov. Robert P. Casey, the pro-life Democratic namesake of the landmark “Planned Parenthood v. Casey” case.

While Philadelphia and the suburbs see an influx of more moderate or liberal voters from the cities and a shift against populist conservatism, the numbers taken statewide appear to be moving in the GOP’s favor.

“The difference between the two parties’ registration is what is significant,” Gerow said. “What you’re seeing here is a very big demographic shift. The Republican Party is increasingly more populist. The Democrats are increasingly more elitist.”

Mastriano, who ran against Shapiro in 2022, told Fox News Digital he was heartened by the latest statistics.

“The trends under multiple measures can’t be making Democrats happy,” he said. 

“Besides seeing statewide and even blue-centered areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh showing significantly more Republican registrations, even Gov. Shapiro’s big push for automatic registration when getting a driver’s license has resulted in bigger GOP gains, which I doubt Josh was expecting when he got behind this.”

While its major cities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Allentown — remain reliably in Democratic hands, one of several spreadsheets provided by the State Department showed about 2,200 Philadelphia voters left the Democratic Party so far this year, while the GOP lost about 400.

Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, lost just under 1,200 Democrats and 500 Republicans.

Once reliably-Democratic areas like Schuylkill County now swing Republican, and Trump notably flipped several blue-friendly areas like Luzerne, home to Wilkes-Barre, and Northampton counties in 2016. But Republicans have suffered recent losses around Philadelphia, where once-red, middle-class Delaware County now leans reliably Democratic.

However, overall, there are 3,894,593 Democratic voters registered in Pennsylvania to 3,504,984 Republicans, according to state data.


State Sen. Jarrett Coleman of Lehigh County added he believes the registration gap narrowing is indicative of public sentiment increasingly favoring the GOP.

“[It] is due to the fact that the Republican Party is more focused on kitchen table issues, and that resonates with voters,” Coleman said. “The people I talk to are more concerned about being able to pay their bills and making ends meet. They’re turned off by the Democratic Party’s unrelenting focus on social issues and making every election about abortion.”

Sam Chen, a top Pennsylvania political analyst and professor at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, called the recent trends “fantastic” for Republicans and “worrisome” for Democrats.

Chen called attention to Pennsylvania voters’ proclivity to split their tickets

“In 2016, we saw Donald Trump win the presidency, Pat Toomey win his Senate seat, and then, down the row offices, it was all Democrats,” Chen said. He added that it may “take the edge off” such shifts in voter registration, and that that may not mean all of the “new” Republican voters will automatically support Trump or McCormick.

He argued that while some may try to delineate conservative and moderate Republicans, the true variable is populist via non-populist, regardless of party.

At the same time, Chen said there are things on the populist side of the party that voters for former Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., a longtime respected lawmaker who was not afraid to criticize Trump at times, would not support. Chen later added that some of the gross declines in party registrations, regardless of net gains and losses, are likely attributed to voter distaste with the entire body politic.

“They may not necessarily be conservative or moderate or populist,” Chen said. “They may also just be fed up and feel like they don’t have a home in their own party.”

State department officials who supplied data for purposes of this story declined to comment. 

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