Pennsylvania shows Dems getting it – and what the GOP must do
The loss of a key Pennsylvania seat by a narrow margin in a congressional special election was a hard blow to Republicans, given that it happened in a traditionally Democratic district that President Trump won by 20 points. After all, the election of 2016, with Donald Trump winning, was a once-in-a-century turning point for the right, signaling a decisive change in direction after four years of far-left Obama extremism and its terrible economic consequences. Could it really have been just a blip?
Or more specifically, could there really be a blue wave building so fast so soon after voters invested so much in this change? Well, yes and no. Democrats seem to have figured out how to win against Trump, and it's not what Antifa or the ruling dinosaurs the Democratic Party prescribe. There have been a string of moderate low-key Democrats winning elections these days (Doug Jones in Alabama, Ralph Northam in Virginia), coming in on the old Bill Clinton model of the 1990s, as I have noted here. These Democrats winning aren't hard leftists and don't loudly identify with either the Hillary Clinton die-hards or President Obama's odious record of failure, which remain a gargantuan presence in their party. Conor Lamb, who beat Rick Saccone in this election, even stated he wouldn't support a dinosaur like Nancy Pelosi for House speaker were he to win the special election. American Thinker's J. Marsolo today described brilliantly how this went down in Pennsylvania, from his position on the ground there, and Salena Zito, back in late 2017, predicted perfectly that Conor Lamb could win this particular election easily with his recognition of such a formula.
But all is not lost for Republicans, and it may be, at worst, a couple of years before a blue wave builds. Michael Barone, in an excellent, must-read column, points out that Republicans need to read the Democrats' winning formula right in order to counter it, writing:
Special elections are often good indicators for general elections, but they are also inherently low-stakes contests. You can vote for the opposition party without giving it immediate control. But in November, control of the House will be at stake.
Lamb's approach was similar to that of many candidates recruited by Rahm Emanuel in 2006, the last time Democrats overturned a Republican House majority. Their local roots and moderate positions were adapted to local terrain. That's something the out-party can do, while the in-party is usually stuck with the president's profile.
But it's not clear that Democrats have been as canny this year as Emanuel was a dozen years ago. They have some 1,200 candidates running for the 435 House seats, a great many of them full-throated Trump haters. And Democratic primary voters may resist party leaders' efforts to bolster moderate candidates. When the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee urged voters in Texas's 7th congressional district – a target seat with many upscale voters – not to vote for leftist Laura Moser, they responded by voting for her. Moser ran better on election day than in early voting and has a good chance to be nominated in the May 22 runoff.
The danger for Democrats is that they'll be seen as campaigning for impeachment, contrary to Pelosi's warnings, and as echoing the sentiments expressed by Hillary Clinton this week on her book promotion tour in India.
It makes sense, and like all of Barone's analyses, is on the mark with his record of correct forecasts. What it says to us now is that it's not time to lie on laurels, given the disgusting shape the Democratic leadership is in, and that the shortest path to victory is to stick close to President Trump's agenda, particularly on the tax cuts. Can we see more of this by November?