Pennsylvania: Ticket Splitting is not a Recent Voting Phenomenon

April 2005

The flood gates opened in the 1960s when ticket splitting became commonplace.  An entirely new set of personal political changes occurred in the 1960s. There can be no doubt about one of these trends-the rise of the "independent" voter.

Pennsylvania became a competitive two-party state during the 1960s, for the first time since before the Civil War.  Thus, ticket splitting became commonplace, particularly in high visibility elections.   The first of the trend setting elections took place in 1956 when Republican presidential candidate, Dwight Eisenhower, carried Pennsylvania, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson, 56.6 percent to 43.3 percent, while Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Joseph Clark edged out Republican, James Duff, 50 percent to 49.7 percent.

From 1956 to 2004, there have been nine elections in which a presidential and U.S. Senate election have occurred in the same year.  An analysis of these elections reveals the extent to which Pennsylvanians have been willing to divide their vote:

  • Of the nine elections, seven resulted in split election outcomes.

1956Eisenhower (R)Clark (D)
1964Johnson (D)Scott (R)
1968Humphrey (D)Schweiker (R)
1976Carter (D)Heinz (R)
1992Clinton (D)Specter (R)
2000Gore (D)Santorum (R)
2004Kerry (D)Specter (R)
  • The largest presidential victory was Lyndon Johnson's 1964 victory, an election he won with 64.9 percent of the popular vote.  First term U.S. Senator Hugh Scott (R) eked out a narrow victory over Genevieve Blatt (D), 50.6 percent to 49.1 percent.  Scott ran almost 15 percentage points behind Johnson.

  • In the two elections which did not produce split outcomes, the victorious presidential and U.S. Senate candidates were Republicans.



1980Reagan (R)Specter (R)
1988Bush (R)Heinz (R)
  • Other than Clark's 1956 victory, the Democrats have not won a U. S. Senate election during a presidential election.

  • In seven of the elections, the winning U.S. Senate candidate received a larger percentage of the popular vote than the winning presidential candidate.

1968Schweiker (R)Humphrey (D)
1976Heinz (R)Carter (D)
1980Specter (R)Reagan (R)
1988Heinz (R)Bush (R)
1992Specter (R)Clinton (D)
2000Santorum (R)Gore (D)
2004Specter (R)Kerry (D)

1956Eishenhower (R) 56.5%
Stevenson (D) 43.3%
Duff (R) - 49.7%
Clark (D) - 50.0%
1964Goldwater (R) 34.7%
Johnson (D) 64.9%
Scott (R) 50.6%
Blatt (D) 49.1%
1968Nixon (R) 44.0%
Humphrey (D) 47.6%
Schweiker (R) 51.9%
Clark (D) 45.8%
1976Ford (R) 47.7%
Carter (D) 50.4%
Heinz (R) 52.4%
Green (D) 46.8%
1980Reagan (R) 49.6%
Carter (D) 42.8%
Specter (R) 50.5%
Flaherty (D) 48.0%
1988Bush, 41 (R) 50.7%
Dukakis (D) 48.4%
Heinz (R) 66.5%
Vignola (D) 32.5%
1992Bush, 41 (R) 36.1%
Clinton (D) 45.1%
Specter (R) 49.1%
Yeakel (D) 46.3%
2000Bush, 43 (R) 46.4%
Gore (D) 50.6%
Santorum (R) 53.5%
Klink (D) 46.5%
2004Bush, 43 (R) 48.5%
Kerry (D) 51.0%
Specter (R) 52.6%
Hoeffel (D) 42.0%