Behind Oz’s Crime Attacks Is a Play for the Philly Suburbs


The main reason Biden did so much better: He made huge margins in Philadelphia and the inner suburbs in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, where Trump’s political brand was toxic. Even if you include Berks County, a suburban Republican stronghold, Biden took nearly 131,000 votes over Clinton’s 2016 results. That number is not far from the total ground — 124,000 votes — he made up against Trump statewide.

But those were presidential elections, with record turnout and Trump on the ballot. Instead, consider the 2016 Senate race, in which Patrick J. Toomey, the Republican, defeated Katie McGinty, the Democrat, by about 87,000 votes. Toomey won Bucks and Chester counties and kept Delaware and Montgomery counties relatively close.

“Absolutely, crime hurts Fetterman,” said Josh Novotney, a former Toomey chief of staff who is now a partner at SBL Strategies, a Philadelphia lobbying firm.

The big question in this year’s Senate race then is: Can Fetterman, a tattooed and hoodie-wearing Bernie Sanders supporter from southwestern Pennsylvania, score in and around Philadelphia like Biden did? And to do that, can he defuse the GOP’s attacks on his criminal record?

If there’s one thing we know about suburban voters, it’s that crime matters to them. Along with schools and taxes, it is often a major reason that they do not live within city limits. And if you’ve ever watched the local television news, which millions of older voters still do, you know that crime often takes center stage on the broadcast.

Polls are a way of measuring whether Oz’s attacks are arriving. But another is to look at the crime behavior of suburban politicians. And here the signs are worrying for Fetterman.