Will This Vulnerable Swing State Dem’s Record Come Back to Bite Him?

By Rebecca Downs 
May 16, 2024

Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA)’s supposed moderate image took a hit earlier this week with the release of the Lugar Center’s bipartisan index for 2023. He’s at number 53, with a score of -0.22735. While there’s more senators less bipartisan than he is, he fares worse than the other vulnerable Democratic incumbents running in a swing state.

These rankings are for the first session of the 118th Congress. During the 117th Congress, however, Casey served as a more bipartisan senator, coming in at the 37th spot, with a score of 0.44706. 

Worse for Casey’s slipping sense of bipartisanship is how “Republican Voter Registration Is Booming in Pennsylvania,” per a NOTUS headline from last month. “In every single county in Pennsylvania, the number of registered Republicans has increased in the last five months. And in all but a handful, the number of Democrats has declined… Today, the Democrats’ advantage is around 400,000,” the report mentioned.

Casey’s own words may be what comes back to haunt him most of all, though. When running against then Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in 2006, whom he managed to unseat, Casey hammered Santorum for voting with then-President George W. Bush 98 percent of the time. 

“When you agree with two politicians in Washington that agree 98 percent of the time, one of them is really not necessary. I think what the people of Pennsylvania expect and deserve is someone who’s going to be independent, truly independent,” he said during a “Meet the Press” interview. “We need someone who is going to be truly independent, who has the character and the integrity to stand up to his party and his president, especially at a time of war,” he continued, also offering that “being a rubber stamp for the President of the United States is not in the best interest in the people of America.”

Casey also similarly brought up that voting record during a debate with Santorum. 

For the 117th Congress, however, Casey himself voted 98.5 percent of the time with President Joe Biden. Casey’s Republican opponent, Dave McCormick recently released an ad highlighting as much.

At the end of the ad, a message appears declaring “Casey was right. Being a rubber stamp for Joe Biden is not in the best interest of America.” There’s also a call to action to “RETIRE BOB CASEY.”

“There’s no hiding it — Bob Casey is a radical Senator who is more focused on rubber stamping Joe Biden’s extreme agenda than crossing the aisle to get things done for Pennsylvania. Casey is not his father’s son, and come November voters are going to hold him accountable for failing to put Pennsylvania first,” Elizabeth Gregory, McCormick for Senate communications director also said in a statement.

Most forecasters give Casey only a slight advantage over McCormick, with a “Lean” or “Tilt Democratic” ranking. The race will be even more interesting to watch given that Casey is on the ballot with Biden. Although Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020 and it’s his home state, this still is a key battleground. Per RealClearPolling’s average, former and potentially future President Donald Trump has a lead of +2.0 over Biden.

Other vulnerable Democratic incumbents and their scores include Sens. Jacky Rosen of Nevada in the 6th spot; Jon Tester of Montana in the 10th spot; Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin in the 30th spot; and Sherrod Brown of Ohio in the 39th spot. Rosen, Tester, and Brown are considered to be in “Toss-Up” races, in part due to how red their states have become, while Baldwin has only a slight advantage like Casey in that she’s in a “Lean Democratic” race.