Conor Lamb: Democrats' canary in the-coal mine

Two weeks from today, voters in western Pennsylvania will go to the polls to choose their next member of Congress. It...

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 10:44 AM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 10:44 AM

Two weeks from today, voters in western Pennsylvania will go to the polls to choose their next member of Congress. It might just be the most important race no one is paying attention to right now.

On its face, Pennsylvania's 18th District isn't much of a Democratic target. Donald Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016 and Mitt Romney carried it by 17 in 2012. Republican Rep. Tim Murphy had held it easily since 2002; he was unopposed in 2014 and 2016.

But-Murphy was forced out of Congress in October when reports surfaced that he had urged a woman with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion.

That forced this special election. Republicans chose state Rep. Rick Saccone as their nominee, Democrats picked prosecutor and veteran Conor Lamb.

From the start, Republican insiders were worried about the candidate contrast: Saccone is a 60-something-year-old state legislator, Lamb is a 30-something Marine.

That mismatch in candidate quality wouldn't have been enough to turn this into a barn-burner. But when coupled with an unpopular Republican president, the political climate might just be turning toxic on Saccone.

David Wasserman, the House editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, changed the rating on the Pennsylvania race Tuesday from "lean Republican" to "toss-up," writing by way of explanation:

"For over a month, private polls on both sides have shown Saccone leading in the low-to-mid single digits, often within the margin of error. Today, the candidates are better known, but Lamb hasn't let Republicans nationalize the race and Saccone still hasn't pulled away. The contest is exceedingly close, and Republican operatives are preparing to spin a loss as the result of an unfavorable candidate contrast."

It's clear Republicans are on the defensive and are prepping for a loss.

The Point: Republicans can try to spin a loss in Pennsylvania any way they like. But if Democrats win a district that Trump carried by 20 points, the worry coursing through Republican ranks today will rapidly transform into outright panic. And rightly so.

Read Tuesday's full edition of The Point, and sign up to get future editions delivered to your inbox:

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319381

Reported Deaths: 7354
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22264265
Hinds20634421
Harrison18381316
Rankin13862282
Jackson13677248
Madison10234224
Lee10050176
Jones8458167
Forrest7821153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6498149
Lamar633688
Lafayette6298120
Washington5418136
Bolivar4835133
Panola4663110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4597146
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc424973
Monroe4155135
Union415576
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock386087
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn324172
Scott319374
Yazoo314171
Itawamba305077
Adams304885
Copiah299766
Coahoma298383
Simpson298189
Tippah291568
Prentiss283561
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267083
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251951
Newton248563
Tishomingo231267
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187554
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135247
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite126142
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica108027
Jefferson Davis107833
Claiborne103030
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin85023
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547873

Reported Deaths: 11274
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809141565
Mobile41984826
Madison35629523
Tuscaloosa26147458
Shelby25580254
Montgomery25075611
Baldwin21805313
Lee16248175
Calhoun14710325
Morgan14618285
Etowah14160362
Marshall12446230
Houston10757288
Elmore10292212
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10155250
Cullman9928200
Lauderdale9591248
DeKalb8963189
Talladega8455184
Walker7330280
Autauga7229113
Blount6937139
Jackson6905113
Colbert6406139
Coffee5622126
Dale4929114
Russell454541
Chilton4470116
Franklin430783
Covington4267122
Tallapoosa4127154
Escambia401180
Chambers3723123
Dallas3606156
Clarke352861
Marion3237106
Pike313978
Lawrence3124100
Winston283272
Bibb267664
Geneva257081
Marengo250665
Pickens236662
Barbour234559
Hale226678
Butler223771
Fayette217762
Henry193743
Cherokee187245
Randolph186944
Monroe179141
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155157
Cleburne153144
Lamar146237
Lowndes142053
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113230
Coosa111429
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
Out of AL00
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Columbus
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Oxford
Clear
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Hi: 89° Lo: 62°
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Starkville
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Feels Like: 64°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast through most of the work week. This will mean much more in the way of dry and hot weather will be the weather rule through our Friday. However, changes may be coming to our area for this weekend.
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