The Pennsylvania Congressional special election, in which both party’s political fortunes turn, is so close that analysts are being cautious in calling a winner. Yet, Democrats are already celebrating.
Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate for Congress announced his victory last night with only a 542 vote lead over Republican Rick Saccone. Ninety-nine percent of the votes were tallied with only one district is left to count.
The seat in this southwestern Pennsylvania congressional district was opened by the resignation of conservative Republican Tim Murphy who reportedly asked his mistress to have an abortion.
Both parties are looking at this hotly contested race as being a harbinger for the 2018 mid-term elections.
Republicans need to win this seat in the special election to maintain momentum to keep Congress under its control. The special election is also seen as a referendum vote on the Trump Administration.
This a key election for Democrats as well. The party, which is short of national leadership and funding, is looking at this race as a model to win future contests and possibly take back the House in November.
President Trump won this same congressional district in 2016 by nearly 20 percent of the vote. This should have been an easy GOP victory, but a combination of a flawed candidate, Trump’s low job approvals and a strong Democratic contender made the elections results very close.
State representative Rick Saccone was publicly criticized by local and national party operatives for not raising enough funds. He was behind 5-to1 in funding raising against Lamb. Worse yet, Saccone’s TV ads were considered by some as minimalist and uninspiring.
Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, met Saccone once at a small business roundtable and acknowledged afterward that the candidate lacked a key political ingredient: charisma.
The national GOP and outside political action committees were forced to pour in over $9 million of which $7.5 was spent on better TV ads.
Lamb had craftily run as a more conservative Democrat which played well in this district. His credentials were stellar: Ivy League attorney, a former prosecutor, and U.S. Marine. His TV ads showed the photogenic 33-year-old candidate at the gun range declaring his love for shooting and honoring the Second Amendment.
Lamb seems to have secured the vote of the labor unions who see the Republican candidate Saccone as anti-union.
Trump arrived in the district on Saturday to rally support for Saccone even though polls showed that Lamb was less than two points behind the Republican candidate.
With the election results this close, it may not have been enough.