December 22, 2016
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was supposed to lose. Many polls leading up to his re-election bid showed Democratic challenger Katie McGinty with small or large leads. But in the most expensive Senate race in history, Toomey was able to retain his seat.
How? The Washington Post's blog The Fix says it's because Toomey focused on "deliverables" and dodged questions about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (who won the left-leaning Pennsylvania anyway).
The Fix handpicked who they thought were the best candidates of 2016, and Toomey was one of them for those reasons. Per The Fix:
Sen. Toomey (R-Pa.) is one of the most underrated politicians in the country. Winning once in a Democratic-leaning state — as Toomey did in 2010 — might be a fluke. Winning twice — as Toomey did this fall — isn't. (Yes, Pennsylvania is still a Democratic-leaning state despite Trump's win there on Nov. 8.) Democrats could barely contain their joy when Katie McGinty, an also-ran in the 2014 governor's race, beat 2010 Senate nominee Joe Sestak in this year's primary. McGinty's victory, they believed, would make the campaign entirely about Trump and Toomey — a loser for the incumbent. Toomey did everything he could to avoid the national conversation about Trump — with mixed results. But that focus on what he needed to do to win the race led to a focused campaign in which Toomey, like (Ohio Senator Rob) Portman, talked almost exclusively about things his position in Washington had done for people in Pennsylvania. It was a campaign about deliverables, not partisanship.
Toomey won his seat in 2010 as a darling of the tea party. But in the 2016 election, he tried to paint himself as a senator who could reach across the aisle on issues like gun control and as a lawmaker who wouldn't be a "rubber stamp" for President-elect Trump.
It seems Toomey's strategy worked, but that's not to say his second term will go smoothly. Weekly protests have been occurring outside his Philadelphia office since his re-election, with demonstrators airing grievances such as Toomey's last-minute announcement that he was, in fact, voting for Trump. Either way, Toomey has secured another six years in office, four of which will be under a Republican president.