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  • Sandra Stranz

2020 Election: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Scary!

The 2020 presidential election will surely go down in history as one of the weirdest and most memorable. Now that the dust has settled, I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can learn from the election. After all, campaigning is already starting for key statewide and federal elections in 2022, and we need to ensure we don’t lose the ground we gained. So what are the big takeaways?

The Good: Biden Won!

We all held our breath (and bit our nails to the quick in my case!), but all our hard work paid off and Biden/Harris won! Pennsylvania was key to his victory, and Philadelphia was key to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania had a record 6.9 million votes. Philadelphia had the highest turnout in 25 years, over 749,000 voters!

Now that we’ve had some time to treat our PTSD and learn to breathe again (still biting my nails though…Covid stress?), it’s time to take a closer look at what really happened.

The Bad: Philadelphia Turnout

What? Philadelphia’s turnout was a record high in 25 years, higher than Obama’s first election! So how can that be bad? Let’s look at some numbers behind the turnout.

2020 was a high-turnout election, and there were a lot of groups both in Philadelphia and all over the state getting information out on mail-in voting and on voting in general, making phone calls, writing postcards, and doing some canvassing.

(Image credit: Sixty-Six Wards)

But, the impact of the city of Philadelphia on the state’s election results was the lowest since 2000. As Jonathan Tannen at Sixty-Six Wards has found in his great analysis, Philadelphia County turnout grew less almost every other county in the state. (I highly recommend checking out a lot more great info at Jonathan’s site for anyone interested in Philadelphia’s voting patterns.)

Historically, Philadelphia’s high turnout of Democrats has been key to swinging the state blue. What does it mean for the future of our state if Philadelphia’s turnout doesn’t keep pace? If the turnout in red counties in the state grows at a faster pace than the turnout in Philadelphia, will we still be blue for the midterms? Can we deliver a Democratic governor? Can we replace Toomey with a Democrat?

The Downright Scary: A Red Philadelphia?

(Image credit: New York Times)

What is all that RED? Are we in a dystopian future? Nope. The red on the map above shows precincts in Philadelphia where Trump won a higher percentage of the vote in 2020 than he did in 2016! Yes, overall Philadelphia was very blue and overwhelmingly voted for Biden in 2020. But a troubling trend is emerging.

In 2016 Clinton won 82% of the vote in Philadelphia, Trump won 15%, and the Green and Libertarian parties had roughly 2%. In 2020 Biden won 81% of the vote in Philadelphia, Trump won 18%, and the Green and Libertarian parties had roughly 1%.

That means the Trump picked up roughly 3% from 2016 to 2020!

Now I know why I’m still biting my nails. And pouring that glass of wine at night. Our work is not done yet.

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