Quick Guide: Swinging Through the Rust Belt, the Sun Belt and the South

In our third State AG Pulse episode in season 4, we spotlight the pivotal Pennsylvania race with the benefit of insights from Cozen Public Strategies’ Jim Davis in Harrisburg and Joe Hill in Philadelphia. Meghan Stoppel and Siran Faulders engage with Jim and Joe on the PA races from the top of the ticket down. From Rust Belt state Pennsylvania, they traverse the other swing states of the Sun Belt and the South to explore how demographics in those other purple states may also drive voter behaviors.

(00:20): Meghan introduces herself and Siran Faulders from the State AG Group, together with Joe Hill and Jim Davis from Cozen Public Strategies’ Pennsylvania team. She introduces the topic for today’s episode, swing states, by asking Joe and Jim what states aside from Pennsylvania they would put into the toss-up category.

(02:04): Joe breaks the swing states out in regions: PA, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in the Rust Belt, Arizona and Nevada in the Sun Belt and Georgia and North Carolina in the South.

(03:09): Meghan explains that in this State AG Pulse episode, she and Siran will focus on the Pennsylvania AG race before turning the spotlight on some of the races in the above-mentioned swing states. But first she asks Joe and Jim for their opinion on the key federal or state issues that will likely impact election outcomes in swing states.

(04:24): Jim’s view is that the presidential race will play heavily into the outcomes down ballot in Pennsylvania, including the AG race. Joe agrees, and adds abortion as a hot button issue in swing states.

(06:39): Siran sets the stage for what’s happening in purple Pennsylvania on the AG side, with seven candidates on the ticket, 5 Ds and 2 Rs.

(07:57): On the Democratic side Siran identifies former state auditor Eugene DePasquale as the frontrunner with greatest name recognition and provides a brief run down on the other D candidates.

(09:46): Jim weighs in to say that regionality may play a role in who gets elected, and the fact that Eugene is the only candidate from Western Pennsylvania gives him a leg up, since the regional vote will be split in the Southeast where all the other D candidates are from.

(10:39): Joe notes that of all the other candidates, Jared Solomon has been able to raise the greatest amount of money which has allowed him to invest in building a TV presence, but he still doesn’t think it will be enough to ouster DePasquale.

(11:46): Meghan asks about the fact that state Democratic leaders haven’t endorsed a candidate in this race yet, to which Joe responds that the size of the field is a big factor in the non-emergence of a consensus pick. He doesn’t believe it would benefit either just-elected governor Josh Shapiro or Senator Bob Casey, who is up for reelection, to come out in favor of one person or the other.

(13:52): Siran runs down the Republican field of two candidates, moderate Craig Williams and RAGA-endorsed Dave Sunday, favoring Sunday for the nomination.

(15:35): Jim is a little more cautious given that Rep. Williams is a House member and has contacts throughout the state but he would also be surprised if Sunday did not win the Republican nomination.

(16:26): Siran asks how influential the governor’s endorsement is going to be in determining the outcomes of the AG race, to which Joe replies that he expects Shapiro to use all the tools at his disposal to make sure as many people come out to vote as possible and to prevent Pennsylvania from turning red. But he adds the caveat that with Senator Casey up for re-election the AG race may get drowned out and subsumed under the top-of-ticket races.

(18:23): Meghan ponders whether disaffection with the presidential candidates may have the opposite effect and cause informed voters to focus more on the down-ballot races. She invites Joe and Jim to talk more about the other races in Pennsylvania.

(20:03): Joe picks the presidential and the Senate race as the two biggest races, followed by the AG race. Control of the legislature is also up for grabs with the Democrats having a razor-slim majority in the House.

(21:42): Jim adds that now more than ever, candidates matter. Good D candidates in some swing districts could allow them to grab one or two Republican districts.

(23:04): Meghan asks about the history in PA of ticket-splitting and the likelihood that that will impact results. Jim and Joe recount a little of the history of straight party voting in PA and suggest that the disallowance of straight party voting favors Democrats.

(26:20): Meghan turns the floor over to Joe and Jim to talk about what is happening in the other swing states of the Rust Belt, the Sun Belt, and the South.

(27:09): Joe notes that Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are very similar demographically with aging populations and a similar white/Black/Latinx voter split. Black turnout in metro markets in those states is really important, as is turnout among suburban women. In the Sun Belt and the South, Black and Hispanic turnout are increasingly important; immigration is a huge issue that will impact the presidential election and control of the House and Senate.

(28:58): Meghan and Siran debate the fortunes of the Democratic candidates in the North Carolina AG race with Siran predicting that although it would be unlikely for a Republican candidate to win there, Dan Bishop has a chance with his name recognition and background as a congressman and former Freedom Caucus member.

To listen to the full podcast, click here. To listen to a particular section, open the recording and use the time stamps provided above to navigate to the desired part.