America has undergone several periods where the party system changed dramatically. Democrats used to dominate the rural Solid South, while Northern cities were bastions of Republican strength, but the opposite is now true. The parties have at various times won House races throughout the country over the course of more than 150 years, but one thing has remained constant: No Democrat has ever won a House seat based in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the only district in the country where that still holds true.
The district in question takes shape today as the 16th District, shown above. It is mostly comprised of solidly Republican Lancaster County, but Republicans also gerrymandered it to scoop up dark-blue Reading and other pockets of Democratic strength to protect Republicans in neighboring seats. This seat was open in 2016, and Democrat Christina Hartman lost 54-43 to Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker while Trump carried it 51-44. However, Hartman raised considerable funds and is running for a rematch in 2018, when she hopes to make history by flipping this seat.
Indeed, it would be truly historic if Hartman or any other Democrat prevails here. According to historic district maps, Lancaster County has anchored its own congressional district since the 1840s round of redistricting, and before that it comprised a large chunk of a three-member seat that also included Chester and Delaware counties. Although it wasn’t always numbered the 16th District, Republicans have continuously held the Lancaster-based seat since the 1856 elections, when incumbent Rep. Anthony Roberts was elected as a member of the nascent party.
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