RPT: FEATURE - US Democrats See Pennsylvania As Key To Retaking Control Of House Of Representatives

HARRISBURG (PENNSYVLANIA) (Pakistan Point news / Sputnik - 06th November, 2018) As the US Democratic Party vies to retake control of the House of Representatives in midterm elections, the state of Pennsylvania could prove to be a key battleground.

Local politicians are already predicting that the state will deliver a so-called "blue wave" on Tuesday, the color associated with the Democrats.

"Look around the room. You are the blue wave," Lieutenant Governor candidate John Fetterman said during a rally in Harrisburg for Democratic House candidate George Scott. "With your help, Pennsylvania is going to be at the top of the national headlines on November 7 for bringing the people like George Scott to turn the House of Representatives back to blue."

To retake control of the House, the Democratic Party needs to flip 23 of the seats now held by Republicans, and a number of those could be won in Pennsylvania.

Since 2011, Democrats have held just five of the state's 18 House seats, but analysts and pollsters are projecting that the party could take as many as 12 districts on November 6.

Two factors could prove crucial in securing a Democratic comeback in the state, the first of which is voter turnout, activists and experts said.

"I think a lot of folks sat home and stayed out of it last election cycle, because they really did not understand the full implications, and I think they have at least gotten a taste of what those implications are so I foresee there definitely being a robust turnout," Brandon Flood, Political Action Chair for the Pennsylvania NAACP, told Sputnik.

Flood said a robust voter turnout would likely result in more votes cast for Democratic candidates such as George Scott, who is challenging Republican incumbent Scott Perry.

A second factor that is expected to have an enormous impact on the vote is the fact that Pennsylvania's Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the electoral map that guaranteed Republicans an advantage.

The old map had produced the same result in every House election held since it was drawn in 2011: 13 seats for Republicans and 5 for Democrats.

But in January, the state's Supreme Court threw out the map and drew up a new one that most observers say will give Democrats a better shot of winning House seats in the upcoming election.

"It certainly opens the race up. It's made it far more competitive, and it's made it much more important for voters to pay attention and to get to know candidates, which is the way that democracy is supposed to work," the chair of the advocacy group Fair Districts PA, Carole Kuniholm, told Sputnik.

Flood noted that under the old map, cities such as Harrisburg were divided and combined with rural communities in order to dilute the voices of urban, traditionally Democratic voters.

"Harrisburg's impact was somewhat diluted as a result of that, whereas now the full city is situated in the 10th congressional district," he said.

Both Flood and Kuniholm said the new map has boosted voter enthusiasm ahead of the polls, with more candidates running for office and participating in elections than ever before.

"It has completely energized the electorate. People are excited about congressional races for the first time in a very long time," Kuniholm said.

Voters in Pennsylvania and other US states will head to the polls on Tuesday to fill 435 seats in the House, one-third of the 100-member Senate, and a number of statewide positions, including governorships. The outcome of the vote will determine whether the Republican Party maintains control of both houses of Congress. In addition, the results of the midterms are typically seen as a referendum on a sitting president's performance midway through his 4-year term.