With mail ballots widening his lead, Conor Lamb has apparently won a very narrow victory over Rick Saccone in the special election in PA18.
Trump had won the 18th congressional district by 20 points, more than John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012. The last time a Democrat represented the district was more than 15 years ago. Nestled in the Keystone State’s south-west corner, outside of Pittsburgh, this wasn’t just Trump Country. Rather, it was also a reliably and irregularly shaped deep red patch, one that voted Republican in each of the last five presidential elections.
Yet, low unemployment and Republican-backed tax cuts were not enough to divert the electorate’s attention from Trump and his constant chaos. All of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Pac money couldn’t buy a different outcome. Saccone’s defeat was more than a wake-up call; it was a four-alarm fire.
The Democrats had prevailed in a district that is virtually monochromatic; nearly 96% of its voters are white. Lamb triumphed by peeling off working-class votes, and making serious inroads in Republican strongholds as election night maps showed. According to pre-election day polling, college graduates and women probably hauled Lamb across the finish line.Reid Wilson at The Hill:
Having witnessed all this, the Republicans should be scared – and they already are. One survey shows that in the 23 congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton but held by a Republican, only two incumbents said that they would be happy to have Trump’s support, and one of them is California’s Dana Rohrabacher, the congressman who actually met face-to-face with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Some observers said the Obama voters who registered their disapproval with Democrats when Obama wasn't on the ballot are the same voters now registering displeasure with Trump and the GOP.
“I think part of the Obama coalition and part of the Trump coalition are the same people — largely non-college voters who feel like they aren't sharing in the economic success of our country, and they're eager for change,” said one Democratic strategist intimately involved in House races during the Obama years.
“In 2008, they voted for Obama as a change agent, and they bought into the hope and optimism he conveyed. In 2016, they voted for Trump, many of them holding their nose, because they thought maybe electing someone who was outside the political system would shake things up and bring them a better future. That isn’t happening for them.”