Report: Pursuing Pennsylvania
A look into what gives in the Keystone State
Critical Watchout for Democrats
They also talk a lot about a Democratic Party that takes them for granted and wants the party to deliver for them, but doesn’t.
Critical Opportunity for Democrats
Democrats have an opportunity to deliver freedom of opportunity by improving PA’s roads and bridges by improving its educational system from pre-K on up, and by addressing red lining, ensuring a better future for all Pennsylvanians. They also have an opportunity to deliver financial freedom, by increasing the minimum wage, by reducing or eliminating the threat of financial ruin that’s just one cancer diagnosis away with healthcare reform, and by finding a way to reduce or eliminate the burden of student loans. Finally, they have the opportunity to deliver freedom to thrive by making the justice system fair for everyone and eliminate the undue burden put on voters of color to be treated equally.
All imagery that follows, unless otherwise indicated, was provided by the research subjects.
Voters expressed deep frustrations at the calcified state of things in PA, highlighting the “backwards thinking,” and “broken political system” where rural areas were overrepresented, where corruption, waste and fraud ruled and where politicians were not held accountable.
This also showed up in conversations about taxes (you should get something for them) and the legacy of red lining, highlighting the inheritance of bad systems that clogged democracy, inhibited opportunity, and held the state (and its people) back.
Our voters also wanted to open up access to high quality, free/affordable healthcare and RX to everyone and to tackle health issues on an environmental level to ensure a healthier environment to live in (e.g: industrial pollution that impact air quality and health, climate change issues which impact food supply and public health, and issues with clean, lead-free water).
Voters also talked about higher paying jobs, wanting places where they could work, make a decent living and have more rights on the job. They wanted to see their tax dollars used right, citing the state pension bankruptcy, and the lack of social safety net in the state, and the feeling that gambling revenues should be offsetting taxes but seemed to be disappearing.
On this issue, with some advocating for better funding of the police, whereas for others, better training to deal with people from different backgrounds. Many wanted some form of police reform.
A number of voters bemoaned the susceptibility of their fellow citizens to misinformation (caused by, they perceived, their lack of education), and shared that without a better educated populace and critical thinking skills, Pennsylvania would be held back and unable to tackle the tough problems it faced.
Voters were looking for a way to secure a better future for themselves and their kids through education, and wanted the ability to obtain that and make it easier to access (through vouchers and free lunch for kids).
While all our participants felt the impact of the pandemic, many lauded Gov. Wolf and the state’s imperfect, but largely effective approach to keep them safe.
“He tried to keep everything together during COVID. How he tried to make communities aware of what was going on, and was consistent even with the backlash he received. People were more worried about their money than they were about people’s lives.” Angela, Allegheny/Philadelphia
“When Governor Wolf shut down Pennsylvania due to COVID-19, it did mean loss of income for me however at least my health and well-being was being taken into consideration.” Vicki, Small College Town
“Vaccination sites were easily accessible and easy to get in. I just wish more could have been done to push the non-believers. There are still too many non vaccinated.” Stephanie, Small College Town
“As I head into the 2022 election, I keep thinking that Democrats need to deliver.”
“I would like to see someone who will help cut the rising inflation and costs. Gas prices are ridiculous and I don’t see anyone even talking about this issue.” Debbie, Small College Town
“Healthcare is really, really, really big for me. Too many people are going into debt and dying not being able to pay their health care bills. That doesn’t bode well for society.” Kristina, Allegheny/ Philadelphia
“What’s very important to me in the next election is… cleaning up the environment. Please, it’s well needed. We do live here.” Maria, Allegheny/ Philadelphia