Pennsylvania’s special election is an urgent warning sign for the GOP

The results of Tuesday’s Pennsylvania special election should be an unbearably loud fire alarm for national Republicans about the state of public dissatisfaction with their party. If they aren’t covering their ears and sprinting for the exits, they are making a fatal error.

In a special election to fill the seat of disgraced GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, the results were too close to call early Wednesday morning. But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Conor Lamb appeared to have narrowly defeated the hand-picked candidate of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, a dull state legislator and proud Trumper called Rick Saccone. Around 1 a.m., Lamb declared victory, though Saccone insisted “it’s not over yet.” A recount remained possible, but that one would even be needed in such a deep-red district was a warning sign for Republicans.

While special elections are silly and wasteful, Tuesday’s election was still huge for the Democrats and their chances of regaining power this November. Repeat this simple mantra, my little donkeys: President Trump is not magic. His incompetence is killing the GOP. His partisans are deserting him even in his strongholds and his party is now set for a historic drubbing that might eclipse even the “shellacking” delivered to former President Obama’s Democrats in 2010. Republican legislators on the fence about retiring will have their answer: Golfing in Florida beats this kind of humiliation.

Democrats should be elated. If Republicans aren’t safe in PA-18, they aren’t safe anywhere. Trump carried Pennsylvania’s 18th district by 19.6 points, and last night’s showing was a shocking 20-point swing away from the 2016 results. Republican turnout collapsed. If you take last night’s results literally and seriously, they could put more than 120 Republican seats in play in November. While many of those districts will have strong, popular incumbents and other factors that will make them far out of reach for Democrats, Lamb’s strong showing must be terrifying for Republican strategists. Even 10 or 20 additional winnable districts for the Democrats could have a transformative effect on their chances of taking over the House.

PA-18 isn’t some strange Obama-Trump situation either, where a formerly competitive district is reverting to a pre-2016 status quo. Pennsylvania’s 18th went deep red during the Bush administration and has been a layup for the national party ever since. While he wasn’t a great candidate, Saccone was scandal-free, had aligned himself closely with the Trump administration’s positions, boasted the full (if panicked) support of the national party, and was rewarded with his own personal rally headlined by the president himself over the weekend. If that’s not enough to put an overwhelmingly red district away for the GOP, there is really no salvaging Paul Ryan’s sordid majority. Sure, Saccone’s fundraising was mediocre, but it might be time for the national GOP to wonder whether that was the candidate’s fault or Trump’s.

Does Tuesday’s election mean Democrats will definitely coast to victory this fall? It’s best to look at a rolling average of special election …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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