The outcome wasn’t really a surprise but the final numbers were.
When the dust settled on the June 2 primary results, two-term Auditor General Eugene DePasquale won the Democratic nomination, and the right to take on incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, in central Pennsylvania’s closely watched 10th Congressional District this November.
In the end, though, DePasquale faced a stronger-than-expected challenge from first-time candidate Tom Brier in the Democratic primary.
Let’s dig into the numbers and find out just how worried DePasquale should be about Brier’s performance, and what else the numbers can tell us about his upcoming contest with Rep. Perry.
DePasquale vs Brier
The numbers finally settled at 45,453 votes (57.45%) for DePasquale and 33,661 votes (42.55%) for Brier. Meanwhile, Perry ran uncontested in the GOP primary with 79,365 votes, slightly ahead of the combined Democratic primary total of 79,114.
As you can see in the map above, the 10th district race was a tale of three counties. Brier won his home county of Dauphin County, 58.12% to 41.88% (19,895 to 14,336) while DePasquale took his home county of York County, 81.09% to 18.91% (17,854 to 4,163). DePasquale also came out ahead in Cumberland County, winning 58% to 42% (13,263 to 9,603).
Looking at the race precinct-by-precinct we can see that Brier performed impressively in Harrisburg, his hometown of Hershey and their surrounding areas. Yet that was largely the extent of his reach.
DePasquale not only took the rural vote in York County and split it in Dauphin County, he captured the crucial suburban areas in Cumberland County. Nonetheless, he needs a strong performance in Harrisburg if he hopes to flip the seat. A united party and enthusiastic Brier backing him up are important stepping stones on the road to victory.
Democratic Turnout vs Republican Turnout
Speaking of the November contest, I’ve got a rough road-map for how that race may unfold.
Given how close the total turnout was in each party’s primary, I created a precinct map to chart where Democratic and Republican voters predominated throughout the district.
Blue signifies there were more votes in the Democratic contest, red signifies there were more votes in the Republican contest. Yellow signifies ties. (Map by Nick Field via Dave’s Redistricting)
Previously I discussed how the critical areas in this district would be the suburbs around Harrisburg and York. You can see that Democrats are already holding their own in those areas.
DePasquale’s mission will be to pair his strength around York with impressive performances in the Harrisburg suburbs both in Dauphin County and across the river in Cumberland County.
He has to surpass his 2016 numbers in places like Camp Hill, Hampden Township, Mechanicsburg, Susquehanna and Swatara townships. The term-limited auditor general can also help himself by building on the job Brier did in Hershey.
This is shaping up to be the state’s second-biggest 2020 contest. On the one hand, Perry has the fundraising and incumbency advantages. On the other hand, there is a strong Democratic environment developing right now that is poised to aid DePasquale. Definitely keep an eye on this one as we approach November.
Correspondent Nick Field covers Philadelphia and its suburbs for the Capital-Star. Follow him on Twitter @Nick_Field90.