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Democratic candidates strengthen their hold in Allegheny county, especially in the suburbs

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman outperformed President Joe Biden's vote share from 2020 in Allegheny County.
Oliver Morrison
90.5 WESA
Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman outperformed President Joe Biden's vote share from 2020 in Allegheny County.

Suburbs across Allegheny County that turned out for Donald Trump in 2020 – such as Findlay, West Mifflin and Pine – showed far less enthusiasm for Republicans this year. While Joe Biden garnered 59% of the county's vote in his 2020 race against Donald Trump, Josh Shapiro earned 68% of the votes cast in this week's gubernatorial contest against Doug Mastriano.

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman also improved upon Biden’s performance but not by as much, earning 63% of the vote. That translates to about 30,000 fewer votes than Shapiro, and Fetterman lagged Shapiro, most notably in more conservative and sprawling suburbs that include Pine, Plum, Findlay and Moon.

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Shapiro led Fetterman by a small margin in many predominantly Black areas, such as Duquesne and Rankin. This was true even in Braddock, where Fetterman served as mayor for 13 years: Shapiro received two more votes than Fetterman in Braddock. Fetterman did net more votes than Shapiro in a few other areas with large populations of Black residents, including Penn Hills, Wilkinsburg and some of Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods, such as Homewood and East Liberty.

Democratic congressional candidates won their races handily but with fewer votes than Fetterman received. In Congressional District 17, Congressional candidate Chris Deluzio received about 9,000 fewer votes than Fetterman in districts they both shared. Next door in Congressional District 12, Democrat Summer Lee received about 24,000 fewer votes than Fetterman in her bid to replace the retiring Mike Doyle.

The strong showing of top Democrats in Allegheny County’s suburbs furthered a trend already underway in 2020, whenJoe Biden gained on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance in some of the county’s most conservative areas.

John Fetterman, U.S. Senate

Fetterman won his Senate race not just by turning out voters in traditionally Democratic areas but by bringing in swing voters in Republican areas across the state. Fetterman beat Oz by earning a larger share of the vote across the state than President Joe Biden did in 2020: Fetterman received a higher share of the vote than Biden in 61 out of 67 counties.

A similar pattern held within Allegheny County communities. Fetterman beat Oz in most of the county,except for a fewoutlying suburbs. And Fetterman improved upon Biden’s 2020 margin the most in many suburban areas that he lost, such as North Fayette, Elizabeth and Harrison. Fetterman also had a particularly strong showing in Mon Valley communities, including Braddock, where he served as mayor.

Summer Lee, PA - 12

Democratic Congressional Candidate Summer Lee won most of her precincts in Pittsburgh and a number of Mon Valley communities with larger Black populations. That was enough for her to win the race handily, despite losing in most of Allegheny County’s other southern suburbs and nearly all of Westmoreland County. Lee’s share of the vote averaged two percentage points less than Biden did in those precincts back in 2020.

Lee’s performance suggests she faced headwinds that included an opponent with the same name as the retiring Democratic incumbent and a million-dollar advertising campaign that blasted her on crime issues. Shapiro, whose rival barely spent any money on advertisements at all, received 36,000 more votes than Lee in the Allegheny County precincts where they were both on the ballot. Fetterman, who was also heavily targeted by opposition spending on TV, received 24,000 more votes than she did.

Lee did nearly as well as Shapiro in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods north of the Monongahela Riverbut ran double digits behind him south of the river, in neighborhoods such as Carrick and Banksville, as well as in areas beyond the city limits. Lee received more votes than Shapiro in only two out of 779 precincts.

Lee received a slightly higher vote share than her predecessor – Democrat Mike Doyle, who ran against Luke Edison Negron in 2020 – in a few dozen precincts inside the city of Pittsburgh. But she ran well behind him in the suburbs. Lee received 60% of the vote share in her race, while Doyle received 69% in these same precincts.

Chris Deluzio, PA - 17

Deluzio won nearly all of the suburban precincts just east of Pittsburgh – Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills – and made some in-roads into communities further from the city, including Coraopolis, McCandless and Edgeworth. Deluzio improved upon Biden’s 2020 margin by an average of 2% in each precinct.

But he didn’t receive as much support as the Democrats on the top of this year’s ballot: DeLuzio received about 9,000 fewer votes than Fetterman and about 27,000 fewer votes than Shapiro in the same precincts

Deluzio was running in a Congressional district with new boundaries that included parts of Conor Lamb and MIke Doyle’s 2020 districts. But if we look at just the areas they overlapped, Deluzio received almost exactly the same share of the vote as Lamb and Doyle, who were both incumbents, received in 2020: About 56%. Lamb did a bit better in the more rural precincts, and Doyle did a bit better in Wilkinsburg and parts of Penn Hills. But Deluzio improved upon both their margins in many of the suburbs in between.

Oliver Morrison is a general assignment reporter at WESA. He previously covered education, environment and health for PublicSource in Pittsburgh and, before that, breaking news and weekend features for the Wichita Eagle in Kansas.