Taking a general look at elections, the pendulum swings and maybe some lessons are learned

November 4 – With the November 2021 election almost behind us – certification should happen within the next few days – now is the time when analysts dig into the trends and numbers and outcomes.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen talked about the swing of elections this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Barkdoll said, “To me, I chalk a lot of this up to we talk over the years about how the pendulum swings and I think this is the pendulum swinging back. It had moved way too far to the left. You saw the electorate Tuesday move things at least back to the center, if not to the right, both locally and in these state races. We talked about that Virginia governor’s race.”

Ten of the last elections in Virginia, the elected governor has been the opposite party who’s in the White House. It goes back 44 years.

Barkdoll said, “Arguably, the pattern is holding. Meaning that voters get disenfranchised or disenchanted with what’s happening with the party in power and that’s the classic check and balance. They go to the polls, they elect the person of an opposite party. We certainly see that I think happening at the local level with Chambersburg Borough Council. I’ve heard this from a lot of Democrats, Independents. They made a very concerted effort Tuesday to vote for the Republican candidates. They felt that the policies at council had moved too far left and this was their way of bringing that in check. Move it more back to the middle or to the right.”

That same dynamic seems to be playing out in the rest of the country as well.

Barkdoll said, “It does look like in New Jersey Governor Murphy might, it’s still not definitive, but might squeak that victory out, the Democrat, by a really, really narrow margin. Locally, we will see vote certifications now starting tomorrow and into Monday of next week.”

Jansen pointed out, “Just a note on the mail-in voting. We know that was a huge push by Democrats to increase the number of states that have no-excuse mail-in voting, which sadly, I think Pennsylvania legislators frankly fell for because we got rid of the straight-ticket voting and I think that was a short term decision rather than looking at the long-term picture. I think it’s put us into a terrible position because we know as Jimmy Carter’s own Blue Ribbon Panel said it’s mail-in voting where the most potential for voter fraud happens and we now have the longest number of days we can do it for no reason. I think that was a huge mistake on our legislator’s parts and I think it’s something that needs to be pushed back on across the country. I think we’re realizing the danger of this, but it also means we have new ground rules and Republicans have got to get on board. If we are going to continue to have this, then Republicans have to start utilizing not underhanded techniques, but making sure a lot of our Republicans do use the mail-in voting so the day of if it’s bad weather or you don’t feel good or something’s going on, you don’t miss your chance to vote.”

Ryan added, “Think about the race in Virginia. If you voted early on the McAuliffe side and you start learning oh McAuliffe doesn’t want parents to do with much of anything here, you’re screwed. It’s over. It’s done. You start seeing in Chambersburg at the school board. We get the whisper campaign I think it was on the 21st of October.”

Jansen noted, “Also what happened in the 2020 race, to me the biggest scandal was Republicans were behind, they didn’t realize, Democrats filtered and pushed and we’re even finding out maybe not so ethically, the Wolf administration and the Zuckerberg money being pushed through biased organizations. That money ending up more in Democratic precincts where then they can use that money to pay people to go out and get people to do mail-in voting. I’m not saying fill it out for them or doing anything illegal, just going and getting them to get absentee ballots and get that in. Money helps that happen and Democrats knew it.”

Ryan asked, “When are we going to get the money results out of the camps here? Very interested in the outside money that came into Chambersburg.”

Barkdoll said, “They’ll need to file their final finance reports within the next two weeks and we’ll be able to see that. Who donated money. How the money was spent. All of that’s going to be public. On the write-in votes, I do think the Republicans are getting better at figuring it out. You go back even 2020 in Pennsylvania, the Republicans did very well. Trump did lose Pennsylvania, but that same election they flipped the treasurer job, the auditor general job. They expanded their margins in the House and in the Senate. You look at this Tuesday, Republicans won all four statewide judicial elections. It’s the first time they’ve pulled that off in decades. They were very successful in these municipal races, not only locally, but you look even up in Erie, there was a really hotly contested county executive race where it appears a Republican won there. So I think the party apparatus has started to figure out that they can’t just take these mail-in votes for granted and they’re making more of a concerted effort to target Republican voters saying hey, we want you to show up live on Election Day, that’s our preference, but if not, please vote by mail. I don’t see the General Assembly and the governor getting together to reform any of this. I know there’s calls for it, but you’re not really seeing any serious efforts made to reduce the window of time that someone could now vote early in Pennsylvania.”

“Almost two months?” Jansen said. “That’s absurd. Remember, though, Democrats are learning, too. Remember there was a lot of ballots that came in with just the presidential race checked off. Nothing else. I think they learned, huh, if we’re going to harvest votes maybe we better have people fill out more than just the presidential race that we were interested in. That’s why the down ballots ones weren’t so effective as Trump’s.”

In terms of mail-in ballots locally, it shifted the Greencastle Borough Council election, allowing a Democrat to squeak in. 

Barkdoll confirmed, “That is one that you saw a change. Wade Burkholder, who’s a Democrat in Greencastle, well-know, well-liked guy. He’s an old radio guy, by the way. He was behind on Tuesday night, but again, a small voter turnout. The mail-in votes came in and were counted yesterday and it looks like he now even though Tuesday it looked like he would not be elected to council, it now looks like he is successfully been elected to council. So that is an example where you saw one race flip as a result of the mail-in votes.”