Republicans, Democrats both think voters are deplorable

14 March, 2018, 00:38 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Republicans, Democrats both think voters are deplorable

Millions of dollars in outside spending and national media attention have been directed at Tuesday's special election in southwestern Pennsylvania - all for a district that likely won't exist come November due to a state Supreme Court ruling on current district lines.

The special election to fill a vacant House of Representatives seat in a western Pennsylvania district that Trump carried easily in 2016 flips the script.

An 11th hour visit by President Trump, more than $10 million of Republican campaign spending, and a coordinated labor union effort for Lamb have put the national spotlight on a district that Trump won by almost 20 points in 2016.

"He's the first candidate I've ever put a sign in my yard for and volunteered for", said Bancroft, adding that she's worked two shifts a week for Lamb since meeting him in January.

In addition, the GOP faces the whiff of scandal, since the reason for the election was the resignation of Rep. Tim Murphy, a pro-life Republican who reportedly pressured his mistress to end her pregnancy.

A strong case can be made that the congressional elections this year are the most important off-year contests since at least 1946 - the year when the Republicans took control of Congress for the first time since the Depression and brought a generation of virulent anti-communists like Joseph McCarthy to power.

He is pro-gun, personally opposes abortion, and supports the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump announced last week. 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". He's up against 33-year-old Conor Lamb, who pitches himself as an independent-minded Democrat. "He's not a Trump fan, but doesn't run around talking about him".

All of this has combined to make this a close race. In 2016, Republican Donald Trump won the district by double-digits, and Democrats didn't even field a challenger to then-U.S. Rep.

The most recent poll of the district, released Monday by Monmouth, showed Trump with a 49 percent approval rating and the same 49 percent approval rating.

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"I wouldn't be taking this for granted if I were on either side of the political aisle", said Kyle Kopko, a political scientist at Elizabethtown College in central Pennsylvania.

"There are three counties in the district - Washington, Westmoreland, and Greene Counties - and about 40 percent of Allegheny County [suburban Pittsburgh]", G. Terry Madonna, Franklin and Marshall University professor, told Newsmax. Pat Toomey, a Republican who also carried the district in his 2016 re-election bid. He said Japan was very happy with what Trump is doing on North Korea. "All these things ought to be working in Saccone's favor".

Just how anxious are Pennsylvania Republicans about this race?

Trump won the Pittsburgh-area district handily in 2016, but Tuesday's race is said to be a toss-up.

For the president, PA 18 marks his latest attempt at strapping the #MAGA movement to another Republican candidate and hoping that the same political movement that catapulted him to the White House will prove to be more than just a flash in the pan and also have an effect on more than just his own candidacy.

"The way the national winds are blowing [is] not irrelevant", he said.

Lamb acknowledges the intense opposition to Trump among liberal voters but says the election shouldn't be Trump. Polling special elections in the House is really hard, as Nathaniel Rakich of FiveThirtyEight notes.

"It's telling, but there's still going to be lots of disappointed partisans if it's a moral victory", he said. The candidates - Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone - are in a tough fight in which outside groups have spent over $12 million. Saccone is a former Air Force officer in his fourth term in the Pennsylvania state Legislature. If Democrats lose, they'll point to the district's history and call a close race a win for them anyway (though Democrats have flipped 39 state legislative seats since Trump took office, they haven't been able to do it for a congressional seat).

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