#PAGov: Allyson Schwartz Peaked in November 2013

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Unless about 75% of PA Democrats are sexist, the issue is really that there just was never much excitement about Allyson Schwartz’s campaign.

She never gave the electorate any real reason to be excited about her. She had a pretty blah Third Way voting record in the House, and wasn’t promising voters anything especially compelling compared to the other candidates.  That’s why Schwartz peaked in November 2013, way before the race even started for real. And that’s even being generous. If you incorporate her internal polling into this chart, her support peaked in early July.

This entry was posted in Elections, Governor.

15 Responses to #PAGov: Allyson Schwartz Peaked in November 2013

  1. Jason says:

    The chart doesn’t indicate when the polls were taken. There was clearly one at the end of November, and it doesn’t look like another one until the end of January or February – after Wolf’s ads started playing.

    Look, I personally like Wolf and will be wholeheartedly supporting him, but he bought the election. He could be the most progressive guy in America, but we need to get money out of politics and ensure that every candidate has a fair shot regardless of what’s in their bank account. Allyson might not have been the right candidate for the job, but I do respect the ground game she played.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      When the line kinks, that’s when a poll was taken. It’s not perfect, but this is also how Pollster represents their polls over time. You’re right that there was no poll between November and late January.

      There’s no getting money out of politics. You need to give challengers a floor. Ceiling strategies don’t work. The money will always find its way in. And limiting self-funders from using their own cash is especially problematic on free speech grounds, though I’m not sure you are arguing that.

      • James says:

        Sorry, money isn’t speech. That’s just a complete fallacy. There’s no constitutional problem with limiting self-funders. Furthermore, I don’t get why you think ceilings don’t work. You set limits, and if individuals or groups find ways around the limits, you just close the loopholes. If people break the rules, you punish them. What’s the problem here?

    • Jason
      Maybe you should read this Why did Tom Wolf win his overwhelming victory and why is he Tom Corbett’s worst-case Democratic nominee, a true electoral nightmare for the governor? Let’s first dismiss two, wrong explanations for Wolf’s triumph.

      Wolf did not win because the one-time front runner Congresswoman Schwartz “lost” the election that was supposedly hers to win, or because he had more money than any single opponent. Again, Wolf’s opponents cumulatively outspent him and, with the exception of Katie McGinty, ganged up against him in the last month of the campaign. Indeed, Congresswoman Schwartz and Treasurer McCord each spent around $8 million but got no electoral bang for their many (By John Hanger)
      Allyson went negative in her ground game and it backfired and the voters of Pa.want positive change in the Commonwealth

    • Allyson might not have been the right candidate for the job, but I do respect the ground game she played.

      What was Schwartz’s ground game? She couldn’t even kick everyone’s butt on her home turf.

  2. Mike Craig says:

    I wish her well in the future, but your remarks are spot on.

  3. JebF says:

    Normally a big fan but very disappointed in this blog’s coverage of the primary – naive and simpleminded. That’s not to say a vote for Wolf was necessarily (or even likely) either of those things (indeed, I like him), but posts like this one are. To say that sexism played no role in Schwartz’s defeat because people failed to get excited about her is circular logic; it begs the question. Akin to saying it’s a lack of excitement about orange peels, not an unconscious preference for sweetness over bitterness, that makes people cast them in the trash after eating the fruit. Except in this case the unconscious preference is for male leaders, which is indefensible and unjustified.

    It’s possible to make a reasonable case that sexism, though present, was not determinative in this race. But that case was not made here.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      The problem with this argument is that there is no unconscious preference for male leaders. Women candidates win elections at about the same rate that men do *when they run.* The primary reason for the gender gap in political representation is that women are less likely to run in the first place.


      I’m allergic to Schwartz’s sexism excuse because I think it cheapens a very important conversation. If the conventional wisdom becomes that Schwartz lost because the PA electorate is too sexist for a woman to win statewide, that sends a really discouraging message to future women candidates: “don’t even try – you’re predetermined to lose.” It’s not true. Kathleen Kane won statewide. There was just something about Allyson Schwartz in particular that Democratic voters didn’t like.

      • JebF says:

        We definitely do need to encourage more women to run for office, and that may indeed help alleviate the gender gap in political representation, but that’s not a response to the argument I was making about this particular race.

        Schwartz drew an unusually high level of attention to her gender , both intentionally by shining light on the reality of traditional all-male back-room deal making and unintentionally by being the only female member of PA’s congressional delegation and the former head of a women’s health clinic, in a state that’s one of only 14 that has never elected a female governor or U.S. senator. Additionally, we know that when candidates policies are similar, as in this race, people focus more on personal traits. It follows that this increased scrutiny of Schwartz’s gender resulted in above-average expression of biases we know exist (I doubt I need to site one of a million sources as proof here).

        Further, that women run for office less than men is at least in part a manifestation of the sexism you protest exists. It’s the old “twice as good” requirement, traditionally associated with the unfair double standard black people are often held to. The current environment, though no doubt better than before, is one in which only a few, super-qualified women (like Schwartz) feel like they can compete. And even when they do jump in, their double-quality experience is more easily overlooked if they actually try to run on it (like Schwartz’s – a cabinet company CEO beat a 5-term U.S. Congresswoman). This doesn’t hold everywhere all the time, but it does some places some of the time – like in the PA gov primary.

        • Schwartz drew an unusually high level of attention to her gender, …

          Some of which she brought on herself. The attention was because she was a candidate for a state that hasn’t elected a woman to either of the stated offices. Also to the fact that she was the clear front-runner at the time of her announcement.

          • JebF says:


            In further response to Jon (because who doesn’t enjoy a good comments-section rant sometimes), by your own admission you’re “allergic” to the sexism excuse because you don’t like the message it sends, not because you’ve assessed the situation and decided, based on the evidence, it’s incorrect.

            Also, even if you do think it’s valid to believe in a reality that, evidence notwithstanding, conforms to your ideals, then your vote for Wolf is all the more surprising. He bought the election. If you don’t like to talk about sexism because it might discourage women from running, then why are you OK with rich people buying elections, even though it’s very likely going to discourage anyone without a trust fund to want to get involved in the future?

            Alright I’m done, I promise.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Again though, where is the sexism “evidence” you’re citing? One female candidate losing an election is not evidence of sexism. What else do you actually have?

          • JebF:
            How did Wolf “buy” the election? The same could be said of Schwartz if she had won. Where do you think she got all that campaign cash?

  4. JebF says:

    Phil – Schwartz did not user her own money, much less $10M of it.

    Jon – Evidence of sexism no longer usually takes the form of a macho man telling a woman she’s too pretty to be in politics. It’s much more subtle. It’s things like the Inquirer publishing its endorsement of McCord on the same day as it ran its profile of Schwartz, and putting both right next to each other both in print and on the web. Things like the continual questions of whether Schwartz was strong enough to take on Corbett. Have you ever seen a successful female candidate for high office as mild-mannered as Wolf? Yet he faced almost no scrutiny about whether he is strong enough to unseat an incumbent Republican. The problem is that people don’t see sexism unless they see it in its historical embodiment, rather than its modern, far more subtle form. Of course, it’s a matter of perspective. But given the race I just watched, I have a hard time believing Schwartz would have lost, as least by the margin she did, if she were a man.

    • But given the race I just watched, I have a hard time believing Schwartz would have lost, as least by the margin she did, if she were a man.

      Just look at McCord. He was probably was known/unknown in the rest of PA as Schwartz. They both crapped the bed in their campaign.

      Phil – Schwartz did not user her own money, much less $10M of it.

      Which is worse, frankly. Schwartz is beholden to Comcast and BigPharma, among others, as a result.