Tuesday night’s Pennsylvania special election for the 18th congressional district proved to be an unexpectedly exciting endeavor. The Trump-endorsed GOP candidate, current state House representative Rick Saccone, found a real challenge from Democrat Conor Lamb in a typically red congressional district that went to Trump (by double digits) in 2016. Each candidate pulled forth at different points during the evening, but in the end, absentee ballots counted in the harsh daylight appear to have pushed Lamb toward a razor-thin victory.
Once 100% of precincts reported on Tuesday night, Lamb was only ahead by 95 votes with the absentee ballots yet to be counted, but he nonetheless (despite both CNN and New York Times declining to project a winner) claimed victory in a speech: “Tonight we celebrate regaining our voice and our vote in the great business of governing this country we love.”
“Tonight we celebrate regaining our voice and our vote in the great business of governing this country we love.” PA congressional candidate Conor Lamb claims victory as he has a slight lead in the House race. CNN is not projecting a winner at this point. https://t.co/AipI22GSRf pic.twitter.com/ZpyI5le8ZK
— CNN (@CNN) March 14, 2018
CNN now reports that Lamb (a Marine veteran) leads by 627 ballots after the counting of absentee votes. However, his victory is not yet certain due to some outstanding military, overseas, and provisional ballots, which may not be squared away until March 20. And it’s likely that a such narrowly contested race will also see the demand for a recount, especially in a year like this one, in which every congressional seat matters.
Even if Rick Saccone would have won by a close margin, the blue wave that turned out for this special election — which is a continuation of the trend that began in Texas last week — points toward a possible bloodbath for November. With the current House numbers (193 Democrats and 238 Republicans) looking the way they do, the GOP should be concerned that Democrats could reach the magical 218 number required to nab control. Also, Fox and Friends suggesting Lamb won because he’s “cute” is probably not a great strategy to adopt.