The complicated race for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat and the not very much simpler one for governor

Pittsburgh

Infrastructure

Julia Felton, “Gainey proposes $1.5M contract to assess 150 Pittsburgh bridges,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 5, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/mayors-bridge-safety-plan-introduced-to-pittsburgh-council/

Megan Guza, “Swindell Bridge in Pittsburgh closed indefinitely after maintenance work damages drainage trough,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 5, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/swindell-bridge-in-pittsburgh-closed-indefinitely-after-maintenance-work-damages-drainage-trough/

Hallie Lauer, “Pittsburgh taps WSP Global to evaluate all 150 city-owned bridges,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 5, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-local/2022/07/05/pittsburgh-bridge-inspections-plan-mayor-ed-gainey-city-council-fern-hollow-swindell-wsp-global-infrastructure/stories/202207050063


John Fetterman

Monica Potts’ notion of the ‘working class’[17] is essentially what I identified as ‘authoritarian populist’ in my dissertation.[18] I’d like to be able to refute her, but the truth is, I can’t: She may well be right, at least for the white working class, and though she makes a point of noting that the Democrats are principally worried about losing the white working class, rather than the working class as a whole, and she notes that white people are largely voting Republican since Barack Obama’s presidency,[19] she seems to mostly be referring only to the white working class when she says ‘working class.’

If we accept that Potts is mostly talking about the white working class, then certainly, my observations of southwestern Pennsylvania seem to bear her out. Though economic concerns were the one issue I was willing to accept as a legitimate grievance of authoritarian populists, it’s important to understand that rather than blaming corporate executives for their economic woes, they blame people of color, a point Potts misses. Which brings us to that other part of authoritarian populism, arguably the larger part, racial and cultural grievances,[20] and this is what really makes Potts’ description of the (white) ‘working class’[21] really sound like a description of authoritarian populism.[22]

Potts argues that Democratic Party appeals to white working class folks will fail because these folks are principally responding to racial and cultural issues, not economic issues, and that the former issues are what motivates support for Donald Trump.[23] I think she’s probably right here.

Potts is cautious about forecasting John Fetterman’s electoral prospects in his race for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, noting that while he did well across the state of Pennsylvania among Democratic voters, it’s less clear that he can peel away moderate Republican voters.[24]

Right now, all I can tell you is that Fetterman is, by far, winning the yard sign race, at least in southwestern Pennsylvania. His Trump-endorsed Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz,[25] might, I suppose, still win the seat, but at this point, it sure doesn’t look like he would win with enthusiasm. Oz barely beat his more establishment opponent in the primary;[26] many Republican voters doubt his fealty to white Christian nationalism.[27] Thus, it may well be that if Fetterman prevails, this will say less about his appeals to the white working class and more about repugnance toward Oz, and further, thus to fail to refute Potts’ thesis.

Oz might still win.

Because so many doubt Oz’ white Christian nationalism,[28] his support among those voters is lukewarm. But similarly, it will be lukewarm among moderate Republicans for whom Trump’s endorsement is either not a factor or a mildly negative factor. I don’t have any reason to expect Oz to ever make a strong showing in the yard sign race and though this is sometimes a useful yardstick in gauging support for a candidate, I doubt it will be here.

White Christian nationalists are more likely to turn out for arch-Trumpist Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor;[29] it’s certainly conceivable that Oz might well ride Mastriano’s coattails to victory. But this in turn depends on moderate Republicans turning out for Mastriano, perceived as ‘extreme,’ despite some prominent Republican figures repudiating Mastriano and endorsing his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, or on those moderate Republicans sucessfully persuading enough to split their ticket, supporting Oz for senator and Shapiro for governor.[30] This is where I have to beg off: I honestly and truly don’t know how this will play because I really don’t have anything even close to that good a sense of the Pennsylvania electorate.

James Carville allegedly described “Pennsylvania [as] Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”[31] And it does seem that statewide races are often a contest between to see if the biggest cities can turn out enough voters to outweigh a stalwart countryside. But with a potential split between moderate Republicans and white Christian nationalists, it’s nowhere near that simple this time, which means I am really without a clue as to how the gubernatorial or senate races will turn out.

But while it’s complicated, particularly with the extreme unpopularity of the Democratic Party right now,[32] Potts might derive some support for her thesis from a Mastriano/Oz victory. Time only might tell.

Chris Brennan, “‘Mastriano is unacceptable’: A group of Pennsylvania Republicans is organizing to support Shapiro,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 6, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/josh-shapiro-doug-mastriano-governor-republicans-endorsements-20220706.html

Monica Potts, “Why Democratic Appeals To The ‘Working Class’ Are Unlikely to Work,” FiveThirtyEight, July 6, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-democratic-appeals-to-the-working-class-are-unlikely-to-work/

Julian Routh, “Group of Pa. Republicans bucking party to endorse Democrat Josh Shapiro for governor,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 6, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/07/06/republican-endorsement-pennsylvania-governor-race-democrat-josh-shapiro-doug-mastriano-candidates/stories/202207050085


(dis)United Kingdom

Prime minister

Harry Lambert, “Why Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak finally lost patience with Boris Johnson,” New Statesman, July 5, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/conservatives/2022/07/why-sajid-javid-and-rishi-sunak-finally-lost-patience-with-boris-johnson

Graham Russell and Martin Farrer, “‘Johnson on the brink’: what the papers said about Boris Johnson’s cabinet resignations,” Guardian, July 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/jul/06/johnson-on-the-brink-what-the-papers-said-about-boris-johnsons-cabinet-resignations

Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason, and Jessica Elgot, “Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak quit – throwing Boris Johnson’s future into doubt,” Guardian, July 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jul/05/sajid-javid-and-rishi-sunak-quit-throwing-boris-johnsons-future-into-doubt

Telegraph, “This political crisis must be resolved,” July 5, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2022/07/05/political-crisis-must-resolved/

Kieran Devine, Daniel Dunford, and Ganesh Rao, “Boris Johnson suffers more ministerial resignations in one day than any PM in history,” Sky News, July 6, 2022, https://news.sky.com/story/boris-johnson-suffers-more-resignations-in-one-day-than-any-prime-minister-in-history-12647012

Times, “The Times view on Boris Johnson’s position: Game Over,” July 6, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-times-view-on-boris-johnsons-position-game-over-t83xkkts6


  1. [17]Monica Potts, “Why Democratic Appeals To The ‘Working Class’ Are Unlikely to Work,” FiveThirtyEight, July 6, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-democratic-appeals-to-the-working-class-are-unlikely-to-work/
  2. [18]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  3. [19]Monica Potts, “Why Democratic Appeals To The ‘Working Class’ Are Unlikely to Work,” FiveThirtyEight, July 6, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-democratic-appeals-to-the-working-class-are-unlikely-to-work/
  4. [20]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [21]Monica Potts, “Why Democratic Appeals To The ‘Working Class’ Are Unlikely to Work,” FiveThirtyEight, July 6, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-democratic-appeals-to-the-working-class-are-unlikely-to-work/
  6. [22]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  7. [23]Monica Potts, “Why Democratic Appeals To The ‘Working Class’ Are Unlikely to Work,” FiveThirtyEight, July 6, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-democratic-appeals-to-the-working-class-are-unlikely-to-work/
  8. [24]Monica Potts, “Why Democratic Appeals To The ‘Working Class’ Are Unlikely to Work,” FiveThirtyEight, July 6, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-democratic-appeals-to-the-working-class-are-unlikely-to-work/
  9. [25]Jonathan Tamari, “Donald Trump endorses Mehmet Oz in Pa. Senate race,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 9, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/news/trump-endorses-mehmet-oz-pa-2022-20220409.html
  10. [26]Hannah Knowles, “David McCormick concedes to Mehmet Oz in Pa. Republican Senate primary,” Washington Post, June 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/03/david-mccormick-concedes-mehmet-oz-pa-republican-primary-senate-race/; Jonathan Tamari, “David McCormick concedes to Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 3, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/david-mccormick-concede-pa-senate-primary-mehmet-oz-20220603.html
  11. [27]Gillian McGoldrick, “Trump supporters still unsure about Oz in Pa.’s U.S. Senate GOP race, despite former president’s endorsement,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 9, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/09/donald-trump-dr-oz-senate-run-endorsement-greensburg-rally-dave-mccormick-pa-republican-primary-polling/stories/202205080176
  12. [28]Gillian McGoldrick, “Trump supporters still unsure about Oz in Pa.’s U.S. Senate GOP race, despite former president’s endorsement,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 9, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/09/donald-trump-dr-oz-senate-run-endorsement-greensburg-rally-dave-mccormick-pa-republican-primary-polling/stories/202205080176
  13. [29]Rachel Bade, Eugene Daniels, and Ryan Lizza, “Takeaways from the biggest primary night of the year,” Politico, May 18, 2022, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2022/05/18/takeaways-from-the-biggest-primary-night-of-the-year-00033345; Greg Sargent, “Say it clearly: Republicans just nominated a pro-Trump insurrectionist,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/18/doug-mastriano-insurrectionist/; David Siders, “‘Beware what you wish for’: 5 takeaways from a key primary night,” Politico, May 18, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/18/pennsylvania-north-carolina-oregon-primary-election-takeaways-00033339
  14. [30]Chris Brennan, “‘Mastriano is unacceptable’: A group of Pennsylvania Republicans is organizing to support Shapiro,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 6, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/josh-shapiro-doug-mastriano-governor-republicans-endorsements-20220706.html; Julian Routh, “Group of Pa. Republicans bucking party to endorse Democrat Josh Shapiro for governor,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 6, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/07/06/republican-endorsement-pennsylvania-governor-race-democrat-josh-shapiro-doug-mastriano-candidates/stories/202207050085
  15. [31]Your Dictionary, “James Carville Quotes,” n.d., https://quotes.yourdictionary.com/author/james-carville/35910
  16. [32]Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/the-democratic-party-is-extremely-unpopular-right-now.html

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