Pennsylvania had possibly the worst gerrymandered Congressional map in the country. Fortunately, it also had a Supreme Court ready to act. They struck down the gerrymander and put into place a fair map.
The emphasis needs to be on fair.
Here’s the brutal reality of Pennsylvania- while it’s a very narrowly divided swing-state, it’s a politically segregated state. Most of the Democrats live close to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. The areas around the state’s smaller cities are “purple,” or competitive. The rest of the state, the overwhelming bulk of the land, are dark red Republican. Those “red” areas are demographically white, Christian, and rural. There’s just not any fair, constitutional way to draw a map that favors Democrats overwhelmingly. The Court did not try to.
Democrats will almost certainly pick up seats on this map. Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 18 are solidly in the Dem column. Districts 1, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 17 are all toss-ups on a normal year. Districts 9 and 16 can be in play, with the right candidate, but normally are Republican. Districts 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 are Republican. If I were a betting man, I’d say the state will go 9-9 this year, even though it should be a Democratic year. I would bet seven or eight seats decided by the margin of error though.
If Democratic activists want to maximize their gains this year, they’d be smart to realize they are not the median voter. Most of Pennsylvania is not Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. The people who will decide our 2018 gains have to be persuaded to vote for us- even if they don’t like Donald Trump, who they very well may have voted for in 2016. There are a lot more Northamptons, Hazletons, Kittanings, and Beaver Falls in the swing districts than there are Allentowns and Scrantons. These people aren’t looking for movement liberalism and societal change as much as they are looking for someone to solve their problems. It is important to speak to our base, but these districts will not be won there. They’ll be won in the places where Hillary lost 2016, among people who we have struggled to speak to for a while. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not win us back the U.S. House with their new map- they simply gave us a fighting chance to go out and fix our problems. Will we take it?