|Emergence of Women's March and new student (anti-gun) movements could be key to midterm elections.|
“Just two years ago, Trump won this district by 20 points. Two years before that, Democrats didn’t even bother running an opponent against the Republican incumbent. You know, I’m really enjoying this radical new Democratic strategy called ‘trying.’” — Samantha BeeTrump and the GOP suffered another major defeat this week with the election of Conor Lamb over wing-nut Republican Rick Saccone in the PA congressional race. While the vote was close, there was no way, under ordinary circumstances, that a Democrat, even a pro-gun, anti-abortion Democrat -- a Republican wolf in Democrat sheep's clothing (sorry) -- like Lamb, could have won. But these are anything but ordinary circumstances.
Actually, Lamb only carried one of the four counties (Allegheny) in the district. But it was enough. He owes his victory to an aggressive field operation, strong union support and the reality that he was running against Trump more than Saccone.
The overwhelming Trump vote here in 2016 belied that fact that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the district. Trump's win was key in his carrying the state by less than a percentage point, or about 40,000 votes. Clinton's loss in PA was key to the Democrat's defeat despite Clinton winning the popular vote by nearly 4 million votes.
The difference now was that Democrats "really tried" as Samantha Bee pointed out, and that many white district Trump voters have become disenchanted and either stayed home or voted for Lamb.
Trump won whites with some or no college education by 39 points, a wider margin than any candidate since at least 1980.
There are no exit polls to know for sure how this group voted Tuesday, but Lamb made clear appeals to them and it would be impossible to make up a 20-point gap without at least some crossover. In fact, dozens of precincts went more Democratic than in the 2016 election.
Lamb benefited from Saccone's history of supporting "right to work" legislation in the state Legislature. The district has a sizable number of union households that might have been willing to support a different Republican candidate, but unions and the Lamb campaign were able to define Saccone as anti-union.
|Black women voters were key in AL election win.|
The difference in this western PA district of 700,000 is that only 2% are African-American. Seventy-one percent of residents (500,438) are registered to vote. Democrats hold a majority — 46% to 41% Republican voters.
Note that there are 118 Republicans sitting in seats Trump won by less than the 18th Congressional District in PA. Dems need to flip a net of 24 seats to take back control of the House.
Of course, Democrats are quite capable of a blowing it, even while riding the anti-Trump wave. Encouraging signs for them are the emergence of the "me too" and Women's March movement (Trump won among white women voters in 2016) along with a new post-Parkland youth and student movement. Both of which should produce a wealth of new anti-Trump midterm voters.
However, if the Democrats are banking on more pro-gun, anti-abortion candidates like Lamb, they will suffer the consequences.