The historic scope of Tom Corbett’s loss on Tuesday must be understood to place it in any meaningful perspective. In losing to Democrat Tom Wolf, he became the first Pennsylvania governor in 40 years to fail to win re-election — and his party became the first party in 60 years to fail to win two consecutive gubernatorial terms.
Even worse for purposes of comparison — except Dick Thornburgh (1979-87) who won reelection narrowly during a deep recession — Corbett’s predecessors were reelected by an average of 23 percentage points. Corbett lost by 10 points. If you are keeping track at home, that’s an astounding 33 point difference between Corbett and his predecessors.
But against this historically massive rejection of Corbett, the titular leader of the Republican Party, there is little evidence that the GOP itself was affected. State Republicans increased their control of the state House as well as the state Senate, and every one of 12 Republican congressional incumbents running for reelection was re-elected.
In short--and certainly not sweet for Corbett — his loss was mostly his own, but his defeat was aided and abetted by a Republican-controlled General Assembly that gave him few of his major policy priorities. The larger failure was Corbett’s. He failed to grasp the challenges confronting him or to tackle them effectively, making his re-election virtually impossible.
Arguably these five were the worst:
Finally, Corbett lost because he could not recover from the judgment too many voters made from the outset of his time in office. Too late did his campaign become focused or did he show the energy and persistence that might have saved him. But it was a case of much too little, much too late. Corbett ultimately was the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong office.