U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District (Armchair Lehigh Valley).
Heading into the fall campaign season, Republicans continue to erode the Democrats’ voter edge in the 7th Congressional District, where incumbent Democrat Susan Wild is again facing Republican Lisa Scheller for the seat.
Republicans have 188,245 registered voters in the district — a gain of 4,793 since a March release of numbers, state statistics show.
As of Aug. 1, Democrats still hold the advantage in the 7th with 227,102 voters – a loss of 102. But the gap is now 38,857 voters. Voters listed as “other” accounted for 94,226 voters, about 18 percent.
In 2020, Wild of South Whitehall Township won by 3.8 percentage points with 51.9 percent to Scheller’s 48.1 percent. The vote difference was 14,068.
The trend was the same with statewide numbers.
Statewide, there were 8,749,774 registered voters as of Aug.1.
Democrats had 3,998,777 registered voters and the Republicans 3,458,514 — a difference of 540,263. There are also 918,348 no affiliation voters and 373,657 voters designated as other.
In May, the Democrats had roughly 10,000 more voters than Republicans.ƒ-
7th Congressional District
Voter registration as of Aug. 1
Reason for Republican gains
Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, said political party registrations have ebbed and flowed in Pennsylvania over the years.
He said the current 500,000-plus gap is roughly where it was in 2000. Democrats then made major gains during the tail end of George W. Bush’s presidency and President Barack Obama’s early years in office, building a margin that approached 1 million.
But, he said, “Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016 prompted many longtime Democrats, many who had been voting Republican, to switch registration, with that trend carrying on to the 2020 election.”
Borick attributed the recent surge in Republican registration to anti-Biden sentiment, dissatisfaction with governmental responses to the coronavirus, and objections to school districts’ policies on mandated masks and curriculum.
Impact on the 7th Congressional race
That’s largely because of the new Congressional map, which eliminated all but a small piece of Monroe County in the 7th and added all of Carbon County, where former President Donald Trump garnered nearly twice as many votes as did now President Joe Biden.
Wild’s rematch with Scheller of Allentown, a business owner and former chairperson of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners, is a key race with national implications for both parties.
The Democrats hold a slight majority in the House of Representatives, but midterm election cycles like this year typically see the party of the president lose control.
Fluid national politics – including the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to decide on abortion laws – could alter how voters of all persuasions cast ballots for the November general election.
Correspondent Katherine Reinhard covers the Lehigh Valley for the Morning Call. She wrote this piece for Armchair Lehigh Valley, a political newsletter, where it first appeared.
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