As a poll shows Lamb with his biggest lead yet, there are reasons for both optimism and pessimism for Democrats in the PA-18 special election.
It’s Election Day in Pennsylvania in the first congressional special election of the year. The conventional wisdom about the race is that the Democrats chose an outstanding candidate in Conor Lamb, while the Republicans backed a dud in Rick Saccone, whom prominent Republicans, up to and including the president, have been trashing on background for the past week.
The state Republican chairman even claimed Monday that PA-18, represented by Republican Tim Murphy since 2002, is “a Democrat district.”
All of this, coupled with Trump fatigue, has given Democrats hope in a district that Donald Trump won by 19 points in 2016.
Saccone continued to not help himself Monday, claiming that the Democrats who back his opponent are “energized for hate for our president,” adding that “many of them have a hatred for our country” and “a hatred for God.” Few things are more emblematic of Trumpism that the conflation of those three things:
Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone asserted that his political opponents "hate" the president, the United States, and even God.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 13, 2018
Also contributing to the good feeling for Democrats? Polls that have been favorable for Lamb — including a new poll Monday from Monmouth University that gave Lamb a six-point lead, both his largest of the race and his first time over 50 percent. Lamb, according to the Monmouth poll and lots of other recent reporting, has succeeded in connecting with traditionally Democratic blue collar voters, the ones who failed to turn out in sufficient numbers for Hillary Clinton.
So Lamb’s going to win for sure, right? Not so fast.
We learned in 2016 that done-deal elections aren’t actually done until they’re done. And yes, it remains a Republican-leaning district, and whoever wins, the election is likely to be close.
By electing Conor Lamb, Pennsylvania’s 18th can deal a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump, just days after he held a rally in the district. A Lamb victory could provide Democrats huge momentum going into November, while also providing a template for how to win in districts that were pro-Trump in 2016.
Will the campaign pull it off? We’ll find out Tuesday night.
For all else, at least the PA-18 special election got us this:
— Andrew Rush (@andrewrush) March 12, 2018