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What Pa. voters are thinking ahead of the midterms

Plus, the case for more 'granny flats' and 'in-law suites.'


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
October 21, 2022
Decision 2022, sinking feeling, 'Body B-1,' ADU data, job markets, bridge play, and a low low price. It's FRIDAY. (*Yesterday was Thursday.) 

Democrats have the lead in Pennsylvania's marquee midterm races for governor and U.S. Senate, but the polls don't tell the whole story, and office seekers will need to woo a cross section of voters to win.

To better understand this year's electoral landscape, Spotlight PA connected with 11 likely voters in key regions of the state, as well as people who described themselves as willing to flip between parties.  

Five categories resulted: Republicans worried about extremism; the new voter; disconnected, disillusioned; ambivalent big-city Democrats; and Democrats who have voted for Republicans — but not this time around.

Read the full report: 11 Pennsylvanians on the candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, and why some are still undecided.

THE CONTEXT: Most voters appeared set in their choices — some because they have a strong tie to one party or another, and others because they have already developed strong opinions about the candidates. 

The voters who remain undecided — on candidates or voting altogether — tended to say they’re frustrated with politicians and their rhetoric. 

"I see the advertising... Everyone has something bad to say about somebody else. You don’t know who to trust," said Reco Southerland, a registered Democrat who moved to Pennsylvania in 2020.

Laura Ozuna, of Allentown, was less circumspect, saying she wants the next governor to do two things: Protect abortion access and improve schools.

"The only way we're going to create change and the most powerful way we can create change is by making our voices heard, and exercising the right to vote is one way," Ozuna said through a translator.


"There is nowhere or nobody who can keep you from me. I am going to kill you & those you love."

—A threat allegedly written by Robert Vargo, 25, of Berwick, and made against a top congressional Jan. 6 investigator and President Joe Biden
Read our complete coverage, plus key dates, campaign finance data, sample ballots & more at our Election Center 2022 website.

Spotlight on the Issues: Where Mastriano and Shapiro stand on:

»  College Funding & Student Debt
»  Energy & Environment
»  Crime & Justice
»  LGTBQ Rights
»  Abortion, Medicaid, & Opioids
»  Rural Health Care & Broadband

More issue analyses will be published in the coming weeks. 

A complete listing of Spotlight PA voter guides:  

»  Your complete guide to voting in the Nov. 8 election
»  Everything you need to know about mail ballots
»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot
»  No constitutional amendments on the ballot, but big ones loom
»  How to serve as a poll worker on Nov. 8
»  These Pa. voters haven't missed a Nov. election in 50+ years
»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election

En Español:

»  Una guía básica para investigar a los candidatos
»  Cómo trabajar como trabajador electoral el 8 de noviembre
»  Todo lo que necesita saber para votar por correo
»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» AXIOS: FBI warns of threats to Pennsylvania election workers
» CNN: Biden's quiet campaign season brings him back to Pa.
» DISPATCH: York Co. vows hand count after election deniers meeting
» WHYY: Mastriano vs. Shapiro on Pa.'s 'crisis of hospital access'
» YDR: Oz says he'd bus migrants to Biden's home state (paywall)
Autumn foliage at Clear Creek State Park on the Clarion River by Terry B. Send us your photos of fall, or Halloween decorations, or a selfie taken when you drop off or mail in your mail ballot. Email PA Gem submissions to us here, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
VESTED INTEREST: Sinkholes are popping up at a mobile home park in Carlisle, likely due to Mariner East II pipeline construction. Inside Climate News reports residents of the park see Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, who has taken on energy companies as state attorney general, as an ally. But his campaign's low-key tone on such issues is giving them pause and reason to worry.

MOVE VICTIM: Katricia Dotson was 14 when she was killed in a bombing carried out by the city of Philadelphia. The New York Times has a comprehensive look at the MOVE case and the incredibly controversial decisions made around Dotson's remains, which were studied, disputed, displayed, litigated, and stripped of her name. This is the story of how a child named Katricia became 'Body B-1.'

HOUSE HUNT: Could basement renovations and the construction of backyard "granny flats" and "in-law suites" help address Pittsburgh's affordable housing shortage? PublicSource reports city officials are awaiting data on accessory dwelling units — living spaces added to properties with an existing residence — a popular option in California that advocates say is needed in changing cities back east

JOB OPENING: Pennsylvania is home to lots of universities doing world-class research. But a new study by the Brookings Institution says Pennsylvania is doing a worse job than most states when it comes to turning academic breakthroughs into jobs. WESA reports the researchers blame Harrisburg, noting related state funding has yet to recover from budget cuts that date back to the Great Recession.

PITT STOP: President Joe Biden went to Pittsburgh on Thursday to tout the repair work underway at the Fern Hollow Bridge, which became a symbol of the nation's bad infrastructure when it collapsed nine months ago, injuring 10. There was a larger reason for his visit, though: to sell White House accomplishments in the run-up to next month's pivotal midterms in a crucial state.

TIL: A horrific crime led Oil City to cancel nighttime trick-or-treating for 16 years before one child's lobbying led officials to bring it back in 2008.

FLY OVER: Let's "get in the chopper" with helicopter pilot Ruben A. Campos for a few glorious minutes of flight over Pittsburgh.

ED. EXIT: The top editor at Pittsburgh's beloved alt-weekly has quit, saying the paper's owners crossed picket lines and professional conduct lines.

PRICE CHECK: A hedge-funder spent $35 million on a compound outside Philly and just sold it for $9.26 million, WSJ (paywall) reports. 

READ LIST: Hold Steady's Craig Finn told Pittsburgh City Paper about his favorite authors. Lit Hub suggests he try reading some women.

YOU'RE INVITED: Join us for an in-person "Meet the Reporters" event on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 3 Dots Downtown in State College! We'll share how we find, report, and write stories. We'd also love to hear your questions and coverage ideas. RSVP for free here.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Confessional

Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Starr B., John P., Irene R., Susan N.-Z., Don H., Barbara F., Elaine C., Michelle T., Deb N., Susan D., Marty M., George S., Becca S., Wendy A., Jane R., Steve D., Kim C., James B., David W., Dianne K., Chuck M., Bill S., Joel S., Craig W., Kimberly D., and Stanley J.
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