Naming Pennsylvania’s new court-mandated congressional districts like they’re Westminster constituencies
Firstly, and most importantly, this is an update to the article I wrote in June naming ALL the House districts like they were Westminster constituencies. Unfortunately, back then Pennsylvania’s new not horrifically gerrymandered districts still contested, so I just named the old ones. And now, here we are.
- Bucks County (Pennsylvania’s 1st congressional district)
PA-1 is now literally just Bucks County, the westernmost point of Pennsylvania. It replaces PA-8 under the old boundaries, which was also coincidentally called Bucks County. Other than the renumbering, the district has actually changed very little.
- Philadelphia North (Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional district)
I mean, look at it. It’s half of actual North Philadelphia, and North East Philadelphia. It’s not Philadelphia North East because its adjacent seat as well as North West Philadelphia also has all of West Philadelphia and like, the middle of the city too.
- Philadelphia West (Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district)
Look, these are Westminster constituencies now. They don’t have to make total sense. There are three Pennsylvania constituencies, North, West, and South. I apologise for the fact that half of Philadelphia is clearly across the river in New Jersey. Philadelphia West is actually the fourth safest seat for the Democrats, the safest outside of New York City and California. On Tuesday Brendan Boyle took 79% of the vote in this constituency, that’s a majority of 110,000 votes.
- Montgomery County (Pennsylvania’s 4th congressional district)
This seat didn’t anything close to exist prior to the new boundaries, with half of it in old Bucks County and half of it in Reading Outer and Phoenixville. Local legislator and former ethics professor Madeleine Dean won this easily for the Democrats on Tuesday night, a notional gain. Not even close, 64/36, 90,000 votes between them.
- Philadelphia South and Delaware (Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district)
Another Democrat gain here, succeeding Philadelphia South, and the heavily gerrymandered, horseshoe shaped Philadelphia West. The previous PA-5 was Pennsylvania North West, a giant Republican district on the other side of the state. Thank God these districts are numbered in some kind of order now. Do this in Texas next please.
- Reading and West Chester (Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district)
Right so originally I wanted to call the last one Pennsylvania South and Chester, because the largest settlement in Delaware County is Chester. However, next to that, is Chester County, with its capital West Chester. The new PA-6 is Reading, a city of 90,000 people, and Chester County to its south. Previously Reading was cut in two, because gerrymandering.
- Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district)
A marginal! A Democrat gain! This was won by Susan Wild, an attorney, against Republican and former Olympic cyclist Marty Nothstein. The race finished 54/43, with the Libertarian candidate pulling an extraordinary 3.1%. He’s a local TV news reporter or something. Hiring a libertarian, is that ethical?
- Pennsylvania North East (Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district)
This seat shares a name with the former PA-10, a much larger Republican district. This is a Democrat hold though, with the district including reliably Democratic cities like Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Matt Cartwright holds his seat with a 20,000 vote majority, taking 55% of the vote.
- Lebanon and Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district)
A Republican hold here in rural western Pennsylvania, in a district with no obvious like, geographic centre. It’s just a bunch of adjacent counties. It is named for its two largest settlements, one of which only has 15,000 people. This does however mean there are no two constituencies called Lebanon, the other being Cincinnati North and Lebanon in Ohio.
- Harrisburg (Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district)
Like Reading, Harrisburg is now whole again. Harrisburg is a city of 50,000, the capital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and lies on the Susquehanna River (which I tried to name PA-9 after but couldn’t justify it). A narrow Republican hold here, 52/48, the old familiar numbers. Just 8000 votes in it.
- Lancaster and York (Pennsylvania’s 11th congressional district)
It’s comprised of York and Lancaster counties, divided by the Susquehanna River. This district is just Northern England, transferred to south eastern Pennsylvania. Sadly however, this was a Republican hold. 59/41, 45,000 votes in it. Notably, the City of York that York County is named for, is actually in the Harrisburg constituency. Hence why Lancaster is first in the name. No Wars of the Roses bias here.
- Pennsylvania Central (Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district)
Absolutely massive constituency in mid/eastern Pennsylvania, its largest settlement being Williamsport (pop. 30,000). Unsurprisingly, easy Republican hold here, 66/34, 80,000 vote majority. This mostly replaces the old tenth district, which I had named Pennsylvania North East. But this is bigger and extends further in the central Pennsylvania, and I already called somewhere else that.
- Pennsylvania South (Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district)
Look, they’re giant rural districts, what am I meant to do, come up with imaginative names? Republican hold in Pennsylvania South is even stronger than Pennsylvania Central. 70% for Republican John Joyce here, that’s a 100,000 vote lead. Joyce is a doctor specialised in dermatology, and his website commits to “dismantling Obama completely”. He also supports the Wall, which I bet is a real vote winner in a district two thousand miles away from the Mexican border.
- Pennsylvania South West (Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district)
This one’s actually the rare Republican gain, in the very bottom left corner of Pennsylvania. Tragically, I’ve just noticed that this seat in my original article was ‘Pennsylvania South East’. Christ, I need an editor. Or to be stopped. Anyway, it’s only a Republican gain because Democrat Conor Lamb picked it up at a by-election in April. We’ll talk more about him later on.
- Allegheny Forest (Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district)
I’ll name it for a major geographic feature in the constituency. Why not. The Allegheny National Forest is a 500,000 acre forest in north western Pennsylvania. It is also the site of the Allegheny River, which is dammed to create the Allegheny Reservoir. Google it, it’s very pretty. Anyway this was held on Tuesday by Republican Glenn Thompson with 68% of the vote. Fun fact: Glenn Thompson looks like a thumb.
- Erie and New Castle (Pennsylvania’s 16th congressional district)
Another name lifted straight from the old boundaries, this is actually more fitting now. A Republican hold, though by just 11,000 votes. Actually 52/47 this time, with a seemingly unknown independent taking 1% of the vote. This district has been Republican since 2010, so presumably we know where Pennsylvania Democrats are spending their money in 2020.
- Pittsburgh North (Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district)
Thank God we’re nearly at the end, and given that this is Pittsburgh North means PA-18 shouldn’t be hard work. Burying the lede here, a Democrat gain! By Conor Lamb, who I mentioned before as the winner of the Pennsylvania South West by-election (2018). This means he’s fought and won two marginal constituencies in a year, giving him a somewhat national profile. Former federal prosecutor, only 34 years old, expect to hear from Conor Lamb in future. Does the Senate call? The Oval Office perhaps? #Lamb2020
- Pittsburgh South (Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district)
Democrats ran unopposed in Pittsburgh South. This district actually includes the vast majority of Pittsburgh, with only its very northern suburbs in Pittsburgh North. It’s very much a Doncaster North situation, wherein little of actual Doncaster is in Ed Miliband’s constituency. I apologise if this was not a very helpful analogy.
Well I hope you enjoyed this. It’s all preamble really. Necessary groundwork for the next thing that’s coming, that I promised on Twitter on election night itself. I’ll cover every single seat that changed hands, using the Westminster constituency names. It’s coming, it’s already started. I guess this isn’t so much preamble as it is appendix. A 1400 word appendix.