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Politics What Pennsylvania’s special election can tell us about Democrats’ chances to take back the House

14:52  13 march  2018
14:52  13 march  2018 Source:   msn.com

What happens if the Pennsylvania special election goes to a recount

  What happens if the Pennsylvania special election goes to a recount The race is getting down to the wire. The special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone is tight. The special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone is tight. Election watchers are starting to speculate it may not be called Tuesday night at all and could even be headed for a recount.

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Here's why everyone in Washington is talking about a special congressional election in Pennsylvania: It's a very real possibility that a Democrat could win Tuesday in a district that President Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

This election is the first chance both sides have to gauge how their party will do in the first midterm elections of Trump's presidency. If Democrats can win the mostly white, blue-collar southwestern Pittsburgh-area district, it might be an indication of their shot in more moderate districts, like the 23 Republican-held seats that also voted for Hillary Clinton, in their pursuit to take control of the House.

DCCC declares victory in Pa. special election despite race being too close to call

  DCCC declares victory in Pa. special election despite race being too close to call The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Democrats' campaign arm, declared victory in Tuesday's special election in Pennsylvania, even as experts declared the race too close to call."I want to congratulate Conor Lamb and his team of grassroots supporters on an incredible victory. I'm excited to have Conor as a colleague and look forward to working with him on critical issues facing our country," DCCC chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luj n (D-N.M.) said in a statement..@DCCC just declared victory in #PA18pic.twitter.

But Washington is often guilty of hyperventilating about a special election. The neck-and-neck race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone to replace a GOP congressman who resigned amid a sex scandal isn't a perfect test case for November, for a few reasons.

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With the help of Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan elections analyst, here's a better sense of how we can interpret Tuesday's results and what about this race is overhyped.

Why this special election could foreshadow November's midterm elections

1. It comes more than a year after Trump's election: You may remember special elections last summer in Georgia and Montana to fill seats vacated by Trump's Cabinet. Back then, it was unrealistic to expect Trump voters to break away from a party headed by someone they'd elected less than a year earlier, Rothenberg said. But enough time has passed between the presidential election that if there is any kind of weakening in Trump's coalition, Rothenberg said, “now is when you might see it.”

Moulton: Pa. House election shows Dems 'can compete and win everywhere'

  Moulton: Pa. House election shows Dems 'can compete and win everywhere' Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said the the results in the Pennsylvania House special election showed that "Democrats can compete and win everywhere."Moulton, who campaigned for Democrat Conor Lamb in the race, said that "on paper, [Conor Lamb] shouldn't have stood a chance in this district.

Losing a Senate race in deep-red Alabama in December already had Republicans on edge. But the GOP also hoped that was a one-off situation driven by allegations of sexual misconduct by candidate Roy Moore. In Pennsylvania, there’s no such excuse if they lose.

2. There are lots of opportunities for Democrats to show their strength: Lamb may win, but he doesn't have to win to raise legitimate alarms for Republicans.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Democrat Conor Lamb, a former U.S. attorney and Marine veteran, campaigns in January. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Democrat Conor Lamb, a former U.S. attorney and Marine veteran, campaigns in January. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

That 20-point margin Trump won the district by in 2016 gives us a baseline of Trump support in the district. (It's high.) The only way Lamb will be able to come close to Saccone will be by converting a sizable number of Trump voters. If he wins, it will be in large part because of Trump supporters. In other words, there are varying degrees of Democratic success the party can show, while anything other than a comfortable win for Saccone is likely to be seen as a blow for Republicans.

Democrat claims victory in Pennsylvania election for U.S. House

  Democrat claims victory in Pennsylvania election for U.S. House Conor Lamb, a moderate Democrat, claimed victory in Tuesday's election for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Pennsylvania that is seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump's performance and a litmus test for midterm elections in November. “It took a little longer than we thought but we did it. You did it," Lamb told cheering supporters as results showed him ahead of Republican rival Rick Saccone by a fraction of a percentage point.

3. Trump is all in for the Republican: The average voter doesn't pay much attention to a special election, so this race, like most special elections, likely says more about how voters feel about the president than the specific candidates.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Trump shares a word with GOP candidate Rick Saccone during a campaign rally Saturday. (Keith Srakocic/AP)© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Trump shares a word with GOP candidate Rick Saccone during a campaign rally Saturday. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

And the more a race is nationalized, the more that race can tell us about voters' moods going into November.

Trump's done a lot to reinforce the narrative that this special election is a referendum on him. He endorsed Saccone and on Saturday night, he held a rally for him. On stage in Moon Township, Pa., Trump kept the spotlight on himself, while Saccone flew under the radar. A notable number people didn't seem to notice or recognize Saccone at the entrance of the rally, reported The Post's Jenna Johnson.

Why aspects of this special election may be overhyped

1. The reason there's a special election in the first place: Tim Murphy, an antiabortion Republican, resigned in October after allegedly encouraging a woman he was having an affair with to get an abortion. It's not like Saccone is running on Murphy's legacy, but he does need to convince voters who may have been turned off by Murphy's alleged behavior why they should give a different Republican a chance.

Pelosi: Conor Lamb's win wasn't because he criticized my leadership

  Pelosi: Conor Lamb's win wasn't because he criticized my leadership Nancy Pelosi doesn't think that Democrat Conor Lamb's disavowal of her in his special election race aided his apparent victory in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District. "I don't think that that really had that much impact on the race," the California Democrat said at her weekly press conference Thursday. "He won. If we hadn't won, you might have a question, but we won — the 'D' next to his name was very significant."Lamb presented himself as a Pelosi critic during the race.

a group of people posing for the camera: Trump signs a presidential proclamation on tariffs at the White House in March. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE)© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Trump signs a presidential proclamation on tariffs at the White House in March. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE)

2. This district won't exist in November: Pennsylvania is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, and last month the state's Supreme Court redrew the congressional districts so they don't heavily favor one party. Since Republicans drew the original maps, the new maps now favor Democrats in more districts. That includes the 18th district, where Tuesday's special election takes place. It will be split up into four different congressional districts. One of those four will be the new 18th district, which will be smaller and more Democratic.

a close up of a map© Reuben Fischer-Baum and Kevin Uhrmacher/The Washington Post/

3. Republicans are pouring money into this race at an extraordinary rate: When Democrats seemed like they might win a Trump district in Georgia last summer, Republicans warned me behind the scenes against reading into it too much. Democrats were spending so much money on one race that it was inflating its importance, they argued.

Well, now the tables are turned. The Post's Paul Kane reports that Republican groups have spent some $7 million on advertising alone to boost Saccone, a remarkable amount, meaning he has a 2-to-1 edge in TV and radio advertising. Republicans clearly don't want to lose this district. But if they win, how much can they credit their policies vs. their willingness to spend millions on the race?

4. The national mood now may not be the national mood in November: Special elections can be bellwethers of the national mood, but that national mood isn't set in stone. Right now employment numbers are good, Trump is championing a tariff policy that could do well in this kind of steel-producing district, and it's an open question if voters will reward Republicans for a new tax plan. All of that could change in eight months when the rest of the midterm elections will be held. Because especially in this fast-paced news cycle, eight months is like a century in political years.

Could a Democrat, Conor Lamb (right), win in deep Trump country? (Antonella Crescimbeni/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP)© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Could a Democrat, Conor Lamb (right), win in deep Trump country? (Antonella Crescimbeni/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP)

Saccone concedes Pennsylvania US House race to Lamb .
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Republican Rick Saccone concedes Pennsylvania congressional race to Democrat Conor Lamb.Lamb, 33, claimed the seat by about 750 votes in a Republican-held district that President Donald Trump won by almost 20 percentage points just 16 months ago. Lamb, who struck a moderate tone during the race and was backed by the district's influential labor unions, beat Saccone, a state lawmaker who had compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the state Legislature.

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