“Battle of the Extremes”: Party Polarization in the 2010 Pennsylvanian Senatorial Election

  • Emily Lieffers
Keywords: American Politics, Political Extremism, Senate Elections, Senate


This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the senatorial election held in Pennsylvania in November of 2010. The paper outlines the state's primary election campaigns and the eventual campaign between two ideologically-opposed candidates, Sestak and Toomey. By referencing extensive primary source documents (interviews, campaign videos, and speeches), supported by scholarly secondary sources, this paper argues that Pennsylvania's senatorial election is emblematic of greater party polarization across the United States. The candidates' unwillingness to provide moderate solutions to appeal to voters in this swing state is noteworthy and is reflective of the decline of centrist politics in the country. Though narrow in scope, the argument put forth in this paper has broader implications for polarization and political engagement in contemporary American politics.