In a nail-biter that put Democrat Conor Lamb ahead by less than 600 votes to claim victory with 100 percent of the precincts reporting early Wednesday morning for Pennsylvania’s special House election, Republican challenger Rick Saccone will not concede – pointing to the 3,900 uncounted absentee ballots.
Despite Lamb’s declaration of victory, the race is still considered too close to officially call, as it is speculated by some political analysts that a recount will likely determine the final result of Tuesday night’s razor-close bout at the ballot box.
Hard to gauge future based on this race
Chad Groening (OneNewsNow.com)
A conservative political scientist says the apparent victory of a Democrat in the tightly contested House race in Pennsylvania isn't a harbinger of things to come this November.
Dr. Charles Dunn, professor emeritus of government at Clemson University, explains his reasoning.
"There are times when midterms end up favoring the out party – that could be the case [here]," says Dunn. "But right now, Donald Trump's favorability ratings are higher than expected. And when they get as high as his are, that will help the Republicans in the fall."
Dunn points out that Republicans get another shot at Lamb in November, in a district that is likely to be different, depending on the resolution of a legal challenge.
"We don't know what the district boundaries will be," he observes. "And whether or not the district lines will favor Mr. Lamb, whether or not they will favor Republicans recruiting a better candidate than Saccone, we don't know that yet."
And if Republicans did this well with a poor candidate, Dunn wonders how well they could do with a good candidate.
Unmet GOP expectations?
Despite the fact that the Republican Party could still eke out a win, it is contended that the Democrat’s good showing at polling stations throughout the Keystone State does not look good for the GOP going into November’s midterm elections – especially in a state that Trump dominated in the 2016 election.
“Still, the unofficial results showed Lamb riding a wave of Democratic enthusiasm in a district that President Donald Trump won 16 months ago by 20 points,” Fox News reported. “The result was expected to raise Democratic hopes of taking back the House in November.”
But Lamb’s 113,111 votes (49.8 percent) only beat his competitor Saccone’s tally of 112,532 votes (49.6 percent) by 579 votes with 100 percent of Pennsylvania’s 593 precincts reporting, according figures reported early Wednesday morning by the New York Times.
The 33-year-old Lamb emphasized how had work had paid off – not leaving any stone unturned to get every last Democrats’ vote in the state.
“It took a little longer than we thought,” Lamb told his supporters early Wednesday morning, according to Fox News. “We followed what I learned in the Marines – leave no one behind. We went everywhere; we talked to everyone; we invited everyone in.”
His 60-year-old Republican challenger took the victory announcement with a grain of salt, as Saccone promised his supporters that he would continue to keep up the good fight.
“Saccone appeared more cautious after polls closed,” Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and Edmund DeMarche pointed out. “He told an audience that he doesn’t give up. He thanked the crowd that he called ‘the salt of the earth’ and vowed that he is going to keep fighting.”
Jumping the gun?
Many believe that Democrats jumped the gun to celebrate a win late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, as Lamb – a former federal prosecutor – first took to Twitter before midnight to share his take on the incomplete results that slightly favored him.
“This is a local race,” the Democratic House candidate from Pennsylvania tweeted Tuesday night. “I don't think it has anything to do with the president.”
Also declaring victory by issuing statements late Tuesday night were the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
“These results should terrify Republicans,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray expressed in a statement, according to Fox News. “Despite their home field advantage and the millions of dollars outside groups poured into this race, Republicans found that their attacks against Conor – including their unpopular tax scam – were not believable.”
DNC Chair Tom Perez also championed the young underdog, praising what many still consider a premature victory celebration.
“[The upset was for] hardworking families of Western Pennsylvania and a victory for Democrats across the country,” Perez announced, as reported by Fox News.
Weighing the results
Even though many are anticipating a recount with the narrow margin of less than 600 votes between the two candidates, the process taking place in the near future is by no means a guarantee.
“Pennsylvania Secretary of State Wanda Murren told Fox News the race would not have a mandatory recount,” Chamberlain and DeMarche divulged. “Under state law, three voters in each precinct must petition for a recount and petitions must be filed five days after each county completes its tally.”
Just months after Republican Roy Moore lost what many originally believed would be a landslide victory for the Senate seat in Alabama’s special election last December, many are calling the Pennsylvania contest another setback for the Trump administration – even though Lamb said the results are all about Pennsylvanians’ desires – not Trump.
“We were executing a plan that we came up with a long time ago that had nothing to do with the president,” Lamb told reporters after casting his ballot Tuesday morning, according to Fox News.
Saccone, on the other hand, promised that he would be Trump’s “wingman” to get things done in the nation’s capital, if elected – after gleaning from two of the president’s visits in January, and again during a Saturday night rally.
“[The president] needs some help down there [in Washington, D.C.]," the conservative Republican told Fox Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.
Lamb got a boost of support of his own last week by former Vice President Joe Biden – a potential Democratic challenger of Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“You said you want your piece of the sidewalk,” Biden, told union workers while the stump for Lamb, according to Fox News. ”Hell, you own the sidewalk.”
Ramifications for Republicans
If things do not turn around for Saccone, Republicans will lose a House seat in Pennsylvania to Democrats, similar to their December loss of a Senate seat in previously deep-red Alabama.
“Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District – which stretches from the affluent Pittsburgh suburbs into deep Pennsylvania steel and coal country – had been held by Republican Tim Murphy since 2003,” Chamberlain and DeMarche recounted. “But Murphy was forced to resign in October amid revelations of an extramarital affair in which he urged his lover to get an abortion when they thought she was pregnant.”
This turnaround was quickly brought to light by the DCCC.
“CONGRATULATIONS are in order for @ConorLambPA and Pennsylvania Democrats – they just made history and FLIPPED #PA18, a district Trump won by 20 points!!!” the DCCC tweeted Wednesday morning. “RT if you're ready to repeat this victory, district by district, all across the country!”
If Saccone ends up in defeat, a downward spiral for Republicans in Pennsylvania could ensue.
“Even a narrow Lamb win would signal that the GOP is in danger – even in districts considered safe for Republicans – raising Democratic hopes of capturing the House and maybe the Senate in November,” CNN reported. “A Republican loss could lead to more House members retiring rather than running into headwinds in re-election bids. Democrats, meanwhile, would look to replicate Lamb's success in working-class districts with similar demographics.”
Despite the fact that nothing was officially finalized Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, Republicans and Democrats alike attempted to boost their supporters’ morale.
“With no declared winner, both parties took a stab at spinning the available results,” CNN’s Eric Bradner noted. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claimed victory for Lamb in a statement Tuesday night, while the National Republican Congressional Committee said it was ‘confident’ Saccone would win.”
Even though all of the votes for Tuesday’s bout have been cast, the Democratic and Republican rivals have probably not seen the last of each other in a competitive setting.
“Lamb and Saccone could face off again in November – though they may not meet in the same district,” Fox News informed. “In January, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state’s congressional district boundaries were unfairly gerrymandered to aid Republicans. The Democrat-controlled court has drawn a new map that puts Saccone and Lamb’s homes in separate districts. However, the matter is now in the hands of a three-judge federal panel, which is considering an appeal by Republican lawmakers.”