This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 16, 2018:
Despite claims by the mainstream media that the victory of the Democrat in Pennsylvania’s special election on Tuesday over the Trump-endorsed Republican sounded the death knell for Republicans in November, the exact opposite is true. The only way Democrats have any chance of turning the 25 seats they need in the House in their direction is for them to become Republicans. That’s the lesson from Pennsylvania.
It wasn’t so much a battle of Republican versus Democrat but a battle of Americanist A versus Americanist B. Americanist A, one Conor Lamb, looks like he was selected from central casting: handsome, articulate, and skilled in public discourse. Americanist B, Rick Saccone, didn’t measure up. Lamb’s campaign supporting the Second Amendment, Trump’s tariffs, the local coal industry, the right to life for the unborn left Saccone without any leverage. How does one debate someone who already agrees with you on the basics?
The election was close. It could have gone either way. Fewer than 1,000 votes out of 228,000 separated the two candidates, with the Libertarian candidate siphoning off 1,300 votes from Saccone. It was that close.
A recount isn’t likely. The votes that remain uncounted (mail-ins and military overseas ballots) aren’t enough to overcome Lamb’s advantage. He’ll represent Pennsylvania’s 18thDistrict.
But not for long. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has ruled that the gerrymandering of districts in favor of Republicans is illegal and that in a few months the 18th District will disappear, leaving the district Lamb will actually represent unclear. It’s even possible that, following redistricting, and Saccone’s intention to run again, that both individuals will represent Pennsylvania voters in the House next year.
Other strange events affected the outcome. There’s the “Murphy disgust” that rankled Republicans and forced many of them either to vote for the Libertarian candidate or to skip voting altogether. Rep. Tim Murphy, a self-proclaimed defender of life, was found not only to have committed adultery but to have asked the woman, now pregnant with his child, to have it aborted. That rank hypocrisy, not to mention moral turpitude, didn’t sit well with many in the 18th District, and could have shifted the election to Lamb all by itself. Political science professor Kyle Kopko said: “Tim Murphy’s behavior was a very hypocritical matter, to say the least, and that really harmed the Republican brand.”
Others agreed that, looking from one candidate to the other, one could scarcely tell the difference. Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania’s 3rd District, said Lamb was “more like a Republican” in his positions. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the race was unique: “This is something that you’re not going to see repeated because [Democrats] were able to pick a candidate who could run as a conservative.” Republican strategist Charlie Gerow reiterated the claim: “Here [is] a Democratic candidate that tailored himself to that district [the 18th Congressional District], making himself sound much more like Donald Trump than Nancy Pelosi … in fact saying [that] he won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi when he gets to Washington.” RNC spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany agreed: “He [Lamb] is pro-gun. He says he’s personally pro-life. He says he’s pro-coal, he’s pro-tariff. He says he’s anti-Nancy Pelosi.”
Democrats and the liberal media delighted to conclude that the election was a thumping of Trump, who not only endorsed the Republican candidate but sent in family members and the vice president to salvage his election efforts. The New York Times enjoyed its fantasy:
Conor Lamb, a Democrat, pulled off a narrow but major upset by winning a special House election in the heart of Pennsylvania Trump country. Mr. Lamb won in the state’s 18th Congressional District, a reliably Republican seat in recent elections and an area that Donald J. Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016. The victory is an ominous sign for Republicans ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
The facts are that Lamb was at least six points ahead of Saccone before Trump’s troops arrived on the scene, but the election was decided by less than two-tenths of a percentage point. So Trump’s so-called “coattails” did have some significant impact in the final days of the contest.
The real “ominous sign” is for any Democrat who thinks that Republicans are easy prey in November. In order to come close to achieving their goal of control of the House (218 votes), they will have to become Republicans. The rising tide of nationalism and growing support for Trump’s policies are otherwise going to submerge them into oblivion.
Imagine having two candidates in any given district debating over which one of them is the most conservative, regardless of political affiliation.
The Daily Signal: 7 Big Takeaways from that special election in Pennsylvania
The Washington Times: House Speaker Paul Ryan on Pennsylvania race
The New York Times: Pennsylvania Special Election Results: Lamb Wins 18th Congressional District
The Washington Times: Democrat Conor Lamb stakes claim on House seat before race is officially over