Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Impression:The 14th may be “Blue Heaven” for Red State Sussex County

The 14th District which encompasses areas in and around Lewes and Rehoboth was part of a national voting pattern ,but parted company with the voting pattern of its Sussex County neighbors in the Nov 2008 election by giving almost total support to the Democratic ticket. While the 14th went for Mike Castle for Congress , local office holder John Brady for Insurance Commissioner and two local Republicans in a state senate race and the Clerk of Peace race, the rest of the ballot belonged to the Democrats. The Obama-Biden ticket lost Sussex County by over 7,000 votes,but won the 14th by 480. Joe Biden beat Christine O’Donnell by only a 273 vote margin countywide in the US Senate race, but he beat her by over 1500 votes in the 14th.

As mentioned here previously, in the 35h in Western Sussex Jack Markell and Matt Denn each lost the 35th by over 100 votes.They each won the 14th by over 1200 votes. The place was perceived to be so Democratic leaning that incumbent Democrat state representative, Pete Schwartzkopf, ran unopposed.

It was not designed this way and has not always been so Democratic leaning. In 2002 when the legislature was reapportioned, the 14th District number was reassigned from New Castle County, based on shifts in population documented in the 2000 census. At the time of reapportionment, a process controlled by the majority party in each House of the General Assembly, the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives and the newly created 14th was designed as a swing district. In 2002 there were 6430 Republicans, 6061 Democrats and 3346 Others.

In 2004 the gap narrowed to 6,558 Democrats, 6,756 Republicans and 3,604 Others. In 2006 the registration was 6978 Democrats to 6973 Republicans with 3869 Others. In 2008 the registration shift widened for the Democrats to 7,791 Democrats ,7,163 Republicans with 4,084Others . While some of these Democrats may be Republicans who switched registration to vote in the Governor’s primary in 2008, that does not explain the preceding shift in registration over the previous two election cycles.

I can not tell if these are locals who are changing affiliation or transplanted Democrats moving to the area, but the 14th does provide a place for Democrats running statewide to pick up enough votes to cut their losses in otherwise Republican Sussex County

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