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The “Lesser of Two Evils” Why Swing Voters in Pennsylvania Supported Democrats in a GOP-dominated Midterm Election
Inside Leo’s on North 4th Street in this industrial town where the Lehigh and Delaware rivers meet in eastern Pennsylvania, the low buzzing sound of hair clippers competed with the barbershop banter. Brendan McCabe sat down for the ideal cut and the Americana of barbershop banter—part therapy, part current events—draped in a black cape. Nothing seemed more topical on the varied roadway that connects the center of downtown to major highways the day after the midterm elections than national politics.
President Joe Biden received a “D” grade from McCabe, a 42-year-old independent voter from Easton, for his first two years in office. “I haven’t noticed a lot of progress or change,” the speaker said. In down-ballot elections, however, the independent voter still chooses to re-elect members of the president’s party, particularly incumbent Rep. Susan Wild. He voted for the Democrat because she supports the field he works in—mental health.
Purple Pennsylvania defied expectations and elected a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators for the first time since the 1840s in a year that was predicted to be favorable to Republicans. Additionally, voters chose their first Black lieutenant governor and gave Democrats their first majority in the state House in more than ten years.
In Easton, Pennsylvania in Northampton County on November 8, 2022, Chris Corona trims Brendan McCabe’s hair. Both individuals believe they are independent-minded voters and both participated in the midterm elections.
One thing is certain as the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections continue to come in: there was no Republican “red wave.” Democrats scored much better than commentators had anticipated, despite the disdain of Biden, historical tendencies, and close to 40-year record inflation. If there’s a place to reflect that, it’s Northampton County, a key indicator in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state.
The reasons are revealed in conversations with numerous voters. Disliking the former president Donald Trump and being wary of a Republican Party that many belief has shifted too far to the right on topics like Christian nationalism, human rights, and conspiracy theories were major factors for many.
Easton, the county seat for Northampton, served as a vessel for the rail and water transportation of coal, iron, and steel in the middle of the previous century. Before the region fell on hard times in the 1980s and 1990s when the blast furnaces went cold, factories there and in nearby areas like Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Allentown assisted in the growth of the middle class and provided fuel for the American dream.
The region has transformed itself into a center for manufacturing, healthcare, the arts and culture, and education, drawing both commuters and locals from New Jersey and New York. By defeating Republican Mehmet Oz, Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman was able to turn one of Pennsylvania’s Senate seats from red to blue. Although it was anticipated that the battle for the Senate would be close, Republicans and Democrats were both shocked when Fetterman’s victory was declared earlier than anticipated.
November 8; Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA; Trump won the election in Pennsylvania in 2016, but Biden snatched a close victory in 2020. A state bellwether in Northampton County. Republicans weren’t able to easily take control of the House of Representatives or easily win a majority in the Senate as predicted.
Control of the House was still up for grabs days after the election, and even if Republicans succeed in flipping it, they will do so by the slimmest of majorities. With votes from Arizona and Nevada being tallied, control of the Senate remained uncertain. Georgia’s race, which is too close to call, will go to a runoff.