Election eve predictions on Pennsylvania and New Jersey races

I’m a great believer in coattails. In a presidential election year, candidates in down ballot races get caught in the draught of the presidential race, for better or for worse. This year, especially in Pennsylvania, enthusiasm is running high for both presidential campaigns, which complicates in particular the U.S. Senate race between Senator Bob Casey and Republican challenger Tom Smith.

Tom Smith, by investing his own fortune in his campaign, has shown surprising strength against the incumbent, and has benefited from the revived Romney campaign interest and spending in Pennsylvania. But in the end, I still think President Obama will carry Pennsylvania, and Senator Bob Casey will be a beneficiary of that win.

President Obama will carry New Jersey by a larger margin than Pennsylvania, so Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez can expect a comfortable victory over Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General race between Democrat Kathleen Kane and Republican David Freed has been hot and bitter. But an Obama victory in Pennsylvania should mean a victory for Kane, who also benefits from the checks-and-balances idea that the Attorney General should be from a different political party than the Governor.

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In Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district, incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach has survived tough and close challenges. But thanks to redistricting after the 2010 census, he now finds himself in a more Republican, if oddly shaped, new district, and should again be able to defeat his 2010 Democratic challenger Iraq war veteran and physician Manan Trivedi.

In Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district, Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick has been resisting a tough challenge from Democratic lawyer Kathy Boockvar. Boockvar has a shot if President Obama carries the Bucks County district, which he probably will. This one is too close to call, but I’ll make one prediction: Mike Fitzpatrick will have a tougher time beating Kathy Boockvar in a presidential election year than he had two years ago when he defeated Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy in a Republican surge in a non-presidential election.

In New Jersey’s historically Republican 3rd congressional district, the former Eagles football player Jon Runyan seems likely to win re-election over Democratic challenger Shelley Adler, widow of one-term Democratic Congressman John Adler, whom Runyan defeated and replaced two years ago. Lawyer Shelley Adler has raised a million dollars to seriously challenge the incumbent. But Runyan benefits from reapportionment which has made the district more Republican.

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