Republicans focused on state-level races believe they are continuing to gain momentum leading up to the November midterm elections, pointing to a recent Democratic memo that Republicans claim rolls back prior language boasting GOP majorities in Pennsylvania House or Senate could be “flipped.”
For example, a 2021 memo from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) said: “It will be a steep hill to climb, particularly because Democrats lost a few rural districts in November, but Pennsylvania will have gubernatorial and Senate races in 2022 and the legislature will be competitive. We’re going to make sure we mount an aggressive challenge.”
Additionally, in December, the New York Times reported, “Democrats are focused on flipping several of the state legislatures that remained tantalizingly out of reach after 2020 — chiefly Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”
Yet in an updated memo, Democrats did not list Pennsylvania in a category of “Making a Play for Vulnerable GOP Majorities,” and instead placed the Keystone State in a less ambitious category of “Reversing Republicans’ Structural Advantage.”
READ MORE — Kyle Sammin: Pennsylvania needs ranked-choice voting
“We’re investing to gain ground and if any of these chambers appear more competitive later in the cycle, we’ll make a play for the majority,” the memo said about Pennsylvania.
The Republican State Legislative Committee (RSLC), which works to elect GOP candidates to state legislative chambers, sees this as a win.
“Even the DLCC is now admitting that Joe Biden is dragging down state Democrats and that they are in huge trouble ahead of November,” said RSLC communications director Andrew Romeo. “It turns out mimicking the president’s radical agenda in states like Arizona and Pennsylvania is a losing strategy, which is why the DLCC is apparently waving the white flag in those battlegrounds despite vowing to flip them earlier in the cycle.”
The DLCC did not directly address the RSLC’s claims about the language rollback, when contacted by Broad + Liberty for comment.
“Pennsylvania is a competitive battleground and we’ll be investing this cycle and throughout the decade to take on the Republican majority,” said DLCC regional press secretary Lauren McIlvaine.
Republicans have been pressing every advantage similar to this, especially after President Biden’s approval rating went underwater beginning in August.
Additionally, studies of voter registration data show Republicans are registering formerly Democratic voters at one of the highest clips in the nation.
“Nowhere is the Republican advance in voter registration more evident than in Pennsylvania, where so far this year Republicans have converted four Democrats for every Republican who has switched to the Democratic Party, according to data published by Pennsylvania’s Department of State,” a report from Reuters said.
“That’s on track to be the highest conversion rate in at least a decade and well above 2016, when Republicans took the White House, House of Representatives and Senate,” the report concluded.
At the same time, however, many of those conversions may be vestiges of the bitter primary fight for district attorney in Philadelphia last year. Because so many Republicans were disaffected with incumbent District Attorney Larry Krasner, many GOPers in Philly switched their registration in an attempt to defeat Krasner in the Democratic primary.
With the 2022 primary now closing in, many of those Republicans who switched to Democrat for that single race are now switching back to their original party.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com. @shepherdreports