The 17th District
The State Senatorial Seventeenth District lies in Montgomery and Delaware Counties, representing Haverford and Radnor Townships in Delaware County, and the boroughs of Bridgeport, Narberth, and Norristown, and the townships of East Norriton, Lower Merion, Plymouth, Upper Merion, West Conshohocken, and Whitpain in Montgomery County. Approximately 97 square miles, the district sits in the eastern halves of the two counties, with an extension into central Montgomery County. It has about 263,000 residents. The district also homes some of the largest municipalities in the state: Lower Merion (59,000), Haverford (49,000), Norristown (34,500), Radnor (32,000), and Upper Merion (29,000), which rank in size 11th, 16th, 28th, 35th, and 45th, respectively, out of 2,560 Pennsylvania municipalities.
The 17th is also one of the wealthiest districts in the state and the country, with a per capita income and median household income one and a half times greater than that of the state and the nation. And, while the district’s high school graduation rate of 94 percent is only slightly higher than the state’s average of 89 percent and the nation’s 87 percent, its graduation rate of college or higher is 57.7 percent, which is twice the average of the Commonwealth and the country. Not surprisingly, the district boasts of several colleges and universities: Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, St. Joseph’s University (partially), Montgomery County Community College, Eastern University, Cabrini College, Rosemont College, and Harcum College. Seven suburban school districts reside in the 17th as well, including Colonial, Haverford, Lower Merion, Norristown (partially), Radnor, Upper Merion, and Wissahickon (partially).
There are about 100,000 households in the district, with about 103,000 housing units, most of which are single-family dwellings (72 percent) with about 70 percent of householders owning and occupying their home. About 29 percent of the residents are employed in education, health care, or social services, while 17 percent are in professional, management, or administrative positions. Other prevailing occupations are retail (9 percent), manufacturing (8 percent) and government (7 percent). In addition, the district hosts the Plymouth Shopping Mall and the King of Prussia Shopping Mall, the last mentioned the second largest mall in the United States. On the Montgomery County side of the district, there are approximately 162 places of worship, 72 bar restaurants and taverns, 2 golf courses, 5 parks and pools, and 1 bowling alley.
Over the past decade, the district has become increasingly identified with the Democratic Party. There are currently in the district about 98,000 registered Democrats (28,000 in Delaware and 70,000 in Montgomery counties) compared to approximately 58,500 registered Republicans (22,000 and 36,500 in Delaware and Montgomery counties, respectively). In Montgomery County, nearly 18,000 voters are registered Independent, No Affiliation, or Non-Partisan, while the county registration also includes, among others, one member of the Pizza Party and two members of the I Don’t Know Party! In 2012 the district supported President Barack Obama with 61 percent of the vote, and in 2016 district voters gave Secretary Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Josh Shapiro 67 and 65 percent of the votes, respectively. In 2018, however, the district witnessed a considerable jump in Democrat support with Governor Tom Wolf and U.S. Senator Bob Casey receiving 73 and 71 percent of the votes, respectively.