Democrat Leads by 6 Points in Pa. Special Election Contest


Donald Trump in southwestern Pennsylvania trying to boost the Republican candidate to victory in Tuesday's special election for a U.S. House seat.

When the nation's political class tunes in to Tuesday's hotly contested special congressional election race in Pennsylvania, one MA man will be particularly invested in the result: Representative Seth Moulton.

Likewise, if Lamb outperformed Clinton in the most heavily Democratic areas and most Republican areas, and, for the purposes of debate, took 72 percent of the vote in the bluest areas where Clinton only took 56 percent and 41 percent in the reddest areas where Clinton only took 26 percent, that would still only get Lamb within nine points.

Saccone dismissed the polls, saying he has found voters to be supportive of him on the campaign trail.

Conor Lamb
Conor Lamb. Drew Angerer Getty Images

The Pennsylvania special election is to replace Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned past year amid revelations of an extramarital affair in which the anti-abortion lawmaker urged his mistress to get an abortion when he thought she was pregnant.

Polls show the race between candidates Rick Saccone (R) and Conor Lamb (D) is exceedingly close, with election analysts rating the race a toss-up.

But Mr Lamb's surprisingperformance - polls show him tied or within the margin of error against Mr Saccone - has boiled down to Mr Trump's polarising presidency, said Democratic Congressman Michael Doyle. But the conservative is no political outsider.

The four-term state representative served in the United States Air Force as a special agent and is a former diplomatic representative in North Korea during President George W. Bush's adminsitration. Though he's running primarily on issues including labor and fighting the opioid epidemic, he's been pressed about his stance on abortion. His first campaign ad featured him shooting a semiautomatic rifle, and he's opposed new gun control measures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shootings. He said he believes the enthusiasm of the crowd may prove pollsters wrong. "It's not one that you learn in Catholic school or anywhere else in the church", he told the Weekly Standard. Former Vice President Joe Biden recently campaigned with Lamb.

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The 18th District stretches from the southwest corner of the state east past Ligonier. If that messaging doesn't work in a seat Trump won by almost 20 points, that's bad news for Republicans in other, more competitive seats in the fall. In a way, he's right.

Voters in the district's special election will cast their ballot Tuesday to fill the open House seat to Rep. Tim Murphy's replacement after his resignation in October. If accurate, the result would likely continue a post-2016 presidential election surge in favor of Democrats. It's about 93% white and only about 36.5% of the population graduated from college.

In order to make up the 20 point differential from 2016, Lamb would likely need to outperform Clinton in nearly every type of district, not only doing better than Clinton did against Trump in the bluest areas but also doing significantly better in the reddest areas and breaking near even with the Republican in the more moderate, average parts of the district where Trump in 2016 won by around 20-21 points.

"This district has voted overwhelmingly Republican in recent elections, but a large number of these voters have blue-collar Democratic roots. Lamb seems to have connected with them", said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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"This is the kind of election where even turning out an extra 2,000 voters who are young could actually make a difference", Ginsberg said.

But while both sides have decided that the race is worth digging deep into their pocketbooks, the fact remains that, unlike Virginia and part of Georgia where candidates also went head to head previous year, this area in Pennsylvania voted solidly and overwhelmingly Republican in 2016.

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