Academics do not fully agree on the speed at which partisanship changes, nor is there consensus about how short-term assessments of presidential performance or the economy effect this change, but there is little doubt that partisan identities do change. The changes we saw in Pennsylvania during 2021, particularly after August, show that partisan identity moved in favor of Republicans. In Pennsylvania, Democratic identifiers dropped by 4.8 percent while Republican identifiers increased by 2.5 percent and independents increased by 2 percent from 2020 to 2021.
And these changes don’t just show up in the polling data. Changes in voter registration, though not moving at the same pace as partisan identification, continued a long-term movement toward the Republican Party.
The electoral stakes for 2022 are tremendous, with control of the Governor’s Office, the US Senate, US House and even the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in play. Every contested race is vital for each party’s near term agenda, but at this point it seems that the Democratic brand has fallen in Pennsylvania. Whether it can get back up is not clear.