With a very few exceptions (Summit Hill springs to mind), Republicans have a higher turnout than Democrats and split their tickets less often than Democrats. The result is that Democratic candidates usually need a large cushion of party registrants to win an election. It also means that political scientists consider a district that is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans to be a safe Republican district. Democratic candidates just don’t win in districts that have a plurality of Republicans.
Except Tim Holden. Somehow he pulled it off. And pulled it off. And pulled it off.
Was I bothered by some of his votes? Of course I was. I’m a member of Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club and a founding member of the California Green Party. Nonetheless, I would point out that if we had 75 Tim Holdens replacing 75 Republican members of Congress, Nancy Pelosi would be speaker, the union checkoff bill would be law, the Post Office would be funded, the Obama federal court nominees would have been approved, and the Ryan budget would be laughed out of Congress.
Because of gerrymandering, moderate Democrats and Republicans are a dying breed. Very few members of Congress have friends across party lines, and the polarization of the Congress seems to grow each year. I like Cartwright, and I will work hard for him, but Tim Holden will be missed.