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Pictured: House Representative Joanna McClinton
Pennsylvania Democrats are at the edge of their seats as the balance of power in the State House of Representatives shifts. Photo by Nigel Thompson / AL DÍA News

Pennsylvania's blue wave: Democrats project control of the State House, first time in a decade

Representative Joanna McClinton is poised to become the Commonwealth’s first Black woman to serve as House Majority Speaker.

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Pennsylvania Democrats solidified a series of victories after voting results on Wednesday, Nov. 9, displayed a historic flip for the House of Representatives, following a decade under Republican control. 

The House flip is the latest winning streak for PA Democrats, who retained control of the Governor’s mansion and snagged a Senate seat when Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman became the projected winners late into the midterm evening. 

Although the Associated Press has not certified its results for the bicameral legislature, Democrats remain confident in their projections. Earlier on Wednesday, a number of House reps held a press conference to declare themselves victors.  

“One thing we’ve seen after decades of gerrymandered maps, [is] that it turns out, 50% of Pennsylvania voters vote Democrat,” said Rep. McClinton, who is poised to fill the role of House Majority Speaker for the Democratic-leaning chamber. 

And while many seats remain uncalled as of Wednesday, Democrats are still within close distance to retaining control of the House in a surprising turn of events, though Democratic victories called late Tuesday night.

The most recent general election was the first held since newly-redrawn maps were adopted via redistricting, a once-in-a-decade process. McClinton also played a major role in that process. Republicans hold on to a tight edge, but the new map evens out distribution among both parties. 

The new State House map outlined deadlocked districts where 101 leaned Democrat and 102 leaned Republican, according to a study by Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan group. 

Currently, the House makeup reflects a Republican advantage with 23 seats of the total 203, meaning Democrats would need to snag 12 seats to shift party control.

“102! 102!! I’m goin (sic.) back to Harrisburg but this time in the Majority,” wrote Rep. Manny Guzman, a Democrat, on Twitter. 

In the latest New York Times tally, Democrats held a small majority of 96-95, with six remaining seats that will decide the balance of power until 2024. 

But in addition to targeting the newly incorporated districts, Democrats faced other uphill battles. Namely, their ability to hold onto incumbent seats through the general election during a highly-contested, high-pressure election season with record-breaking turnout.

If Democrats manage to pull an upset in the state House, it will have reverberating effects in Shapiro’s gubernatorial reign. 

Because both chambers were under Republican control, former Governor Tom Wolf’s veto pen safeguarded much unpopular legislation, most recently, an onslaught of abortion restriction measures, as well as voting-related legislation. 

But a Democratic chamber gives Shapiro an easier time in negotiating with the legislature. 

Pennsylvania became a focal point for the midterm elections, given the outcomes could shift the U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill. 

As a battleground state, it was poised to set the precedent for how outcomes would look in other tightly contested races. Shapiro and Fetterman mirrored other states, where liberal-leaning legislation hung by a thread, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision delegated the matter of abortion to individual states. 

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