Political Science 223
Part 1: PA-08
POLITICAL SETTING AND STRATEGIC CONTEXT
This summer, I was fortunate enough to get an internship on a local U.S. Congress campaign. I live in the Pennsylvania 8th district and worked on the campaign of Kathy Boockvar, Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick. I was able to meet many interesting people and clarify my own political ideals, but most importantly I got to learn about campaigns and the election process.
The 8th district of Pennsylvania is a suburban area just outside of Philadelphia. It is comprised of Bucks County (my home) and a small portion of Montgomery County (Legislative Reapportionment Commission 2012). Redistricting due to the 2010 census did not have a big impact on the makeup of the district. Prior to redistricting (which was controlled by a mostly Republican state government), the 8th contained a small part of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a mostly Democratic city (as are most urban areas), so Republicans gerrymandered the Pennsylvania districts to contain almost all Philadelphia voters in one district (Legislative Reapportionment Commission 2012). They did this because they could cut the amount of Democratic support in other districts while not losing a seat in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a district that would vote Democratic anyway, so placing more Democratic support in that district does no harm to the Republican Party. Furthermore, it wastes votes for the Democratic Party. Philadelphia, like many other large cities, votes consistently for the Democrats. So by moving Democratic support from the suburbs to Philadelphia, the Republicans lose a district that they always do, but in doing so increase their chances at the surrounding districts.
PA-08 has a population of 705,688. Of that number 628,164, or 89%, are Caucasian. Hispanics make up the next largest group with just under 30,000 citizens or 4.3%, just a few hundred more than the Asian community. African-Americans account for 24,544 constituents or 3.5%. Bucks County, which makes up about 95% of the district, is about 15% senior citizens (My Time to Vote 2010). I could not find any religious statistics about the area, but from living and working on the campaign there it has become clear to me that the dominant religion in the area is Christianity. Of the Christians in the area there is a Catholic plurality as well as a healthy Protestant presence. There is also a moderately strong Jewish presence, especially in Lower Bucks County. Other religions, such as Islam and Hinduism, also maintain minorities. This has lead the PA 8th district to be mostly pro-life with exceptions for the cases of rape and incest.
Mike Fitzpatrick first won PA-08 in 2004 with 55% of the vote. He then narrowly lost the seat to Patrick Murphy in 2006 by 1,521 votes. Murphy then defended his seat in 2008, beating Tom Manion with 57% of the vote. However, Fitzpatrick reclaimed the 8th district in 2010 as part of the Republican wave that took the majority of the House of Representatives, taking 54% of the vote. While PA-08 tends to be Republican at the local and state level, President Obama won the district in the 2008 election with 54% of the popular vote (National Journal 2008). In 2004, John Kerry defeated George W. Bush 51% to 48% while in 2000 Al Gore carried PA-08 with 51% while Bush took 46% of the vote.
PA-08 is a fairly wealthy district with a median income of $70,522 and a median home value of $305,500, both accurate as of 2007 (National Journal 2008). At this time, the median income of the United States was $55,039 while the number was $52,692 in Pennsylvania. Bucks County’s largest employers are currently in healthcare. Most jobs (68.4%) are white collar and only some (19%) are blue collar. According to the 2010 Census, 86.9% of eligible citizens in the district are high school graduates, 26% having graduated from college. Also, 71.5% of the constituents...