EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS: What Bucks County’s 2019 Election Results Could Mean For 2020

A voter heads to the polls. Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

November 5 was a big night for Bucks County Democrats.

The party swept the row offices, with each nominee finishing with an astonishingly similar margin of victory, all between two and three points.

Any time we get new county-wide election results, it provides an opportunity to examine the trends throughout all of Bucks, especially given such uniform outcomes. To find out what clues about the future can be discerned from the numbers, I created a map for each of the four row races. 

The best contest for the Democrats was the Register of Wills race between Democrat Linda Bobrin and Republican Don Petrille, in which Bobrin prevailed by a 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent margin. The map of which is presented below.

The next map is of the county treasurer contest between Democrat Kris Ballerini and Republican Tom Panzer. The former defeated the latter 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent.

Same color scheme for County Treasurer.

Meanwhile, Democratic coroner nominee Meredith Buck beat GOP nominee Joseph P. Campbell 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

Same color scheme for Coroner race.

Finally, the closest contest was for Clerk of Courts where Democrat Brian Monroe scored exactly 51 percent against Republican Mary K. Smithson’s 49 percent.

Same color scheme for the Clerk of Courts race.

As you can see, there are some obvious similarities between each map. In fact, the above 2019 maps also resemble the ones for 2017, which suggests these are long-term trends rather than mere outliers.

Democrats continue to gain in districts along the Delaware River, as well as the areas around Doylestown. They also performed well in Lower Makefield and Newtown while at the same time holding their own in Levittown and other area in the south and southeastern areas of the county.

Altogether, the results from both 2017 and 2019 provide a blueprint for Democrats hoping to win county-wide office. It won’t be enough, however, in the higher-stakes contests for Congress and the Presidency next year.

Last week, the Democrats who won their seats took office, swinging nearly all the Bucks County’s government offices blue for the time in memory.

Dems Will Need More to Defeat Fitzpatrick and Trump in 2020

So why exactly aren’t these examples a prototype for defeating Brian Fitzpatrick? Because even with the helpful assistance of a blue slice of Montgomery County in the First Congressional District, Fitzpatrick’s ancestral strength in Levittown is strong. 

That’s what ultimately sunk Scott Wallace in 2018 and it presents the most formidable obstacle for the next Democratic nominee. Unlike candidates for other offices, they can’t afford to lose places in the southwest that are trending Republican like Bensalem and Croydon.

As for the presidential race, the climb is even steeper. Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton narrowly won Bucks in 2016 (48.52 percent to 47.74 percent), such a slender victory won’t be enough anymore.

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will have to hit a mark closer to the 56.20 percent  U.S. Sen. Bob Casey got or even the 58.54 percent Gov. Tom Wolf secured last year. To win Pennsylvania’s twenty electoral votes, the Democrat will have to run up major margins in Philadelphia and its collar counties to offset President Donald Trump’s significant support in the other corners of the commonwealth.

To do so, the nominee will need to retain the party’s new gains in the more affluent areas of Central Bucks County while consolidating the old Democratic working-class base in Lower Bucks County. The last nominee to successfully pull this off was Barack Obama in 2008.

With months to go, Democrats know the areas they’ll have to flip in order to win it all. Of course, identifying the pathway is the easy part. Actually accomplishing these goals is what will ultimately determine the outcome of Election Night 2020.

About the author

Nick Field

Nick Field