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: 471092

Reported Deaths: 9165
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32160471
Hinds30628574
DeSoto29693344
Jackson23098335
Rankin21062357
Lee14515218
Madison13993264
Jones13112218
Forrest12926231
Lauderdale11301294
Lowndes10206171
Lamar10017125
Pearl River8616208
Lafayette8052136
Hancock7172111
Washington6816146
Oktibbeha6799117
Neshoba6377201
Monroe6343158
Warren6310159
Pontotoc607692
Panola6056123
Bolivar5991143
Marshall5948116
Union562385
Pike5450133
Lincoln5217129
Alcorn516288
George456466
Scott450392
Leflore4392140
Prentiss435275
Itawamba433295
Tippah432480
Simpson4251110
Copiah424784
Wayne422363
Tate4202100
Adams4184110
Yazoo412486
Sunflower4077104
Covington406591
Marion4016100
Leake390485
Coahoma387098
Newton361674
Grenada3511100
Stone343757
Tishomingo323788
Attala319685
Jasper309562
Winston299191
Clay286172
Chickasaw280564
Clarke275587
Calhoun258539
Holmes258585
Smith242246
Yalobusha216447
Tallahatchie214949
Walthall204657
Lawrence203231
Greene202645
Perry195753
Webster191642
Amite191451
Noxubee174438
Montgomery169453
Jefferson Davis164341
Carroll159437
Tunica147634
Benton138232
Kemper136939
Claiborne125534
Choctaw124424
Humphreys123037
Franklin114327
Quitman101425
Wilkinson98435
Jefferson86332
Sharkey61720
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 761865

Reported Deaths: 12856
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1087131712
Mobile696141168
Madison47959565
Baldwin35517431
Shelby34948283
Tuscaloosa32719498
Montgomery32358648
Lee21708200
Calhoun19823367
Morgan19140308
Etowah18450414
Marshall17138255
Houston15970340
St. Clair14803270
Limestone13986179
Elmore13893240
Cullman13892229
Lauderdale12986264
Talladega12235203
DeKalb11788220
Walker10110304
Autauga9416120
Blount9329149
Jackson9026132
Coffee8598153
Colbert8257160
Dale8204143
Escambia639399
Tallapoosa6315165
Covington6265153
Chilton6188128
Russell588353
Franklin560093
Chambers5182127
Dallas4595174
Marion4540114
Clarke447871
Pike441488
Geneva419499
Winston402682
Lawrence4018101
Bibb392976
Barbour335567
Marengo318878
Monroe308244
Butler307679
Pickens297366
Henry290752
Randolph290055
Hale284081
Cherokee277249
Fayette269769
Washington242244
Crenshaw229463
Clay220261
Macon212554
Cleburne207346
Lamar185538
Conecuh175237
Lowndes168156
Coosa161531
Wilcox153533
Bullock146242
Perry133132
Sumter122735
Greene118241
Choctaw71925
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Tupelo
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Hi: 86° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 93°
Columbus
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Feels Like: 93°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 85° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 91°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
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Hi: 86° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 93°
Lots of tropical moisture leftover from Nicholas, along with some bits and pieces of low pressure will combine forces to give our area some good chances for some showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.
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