Pennsylvania special election will be decided by absentee ballots

According to the Pennsylvania secretary of state's tally, Democrat Conor Lamb leads Republican Richard Saccone by 579 votes, less than half the total of 1,372 votes received by the Libertarian candidate.  The razor-thin 0.26% lead could vanish if Saccone manages to get a little over 60% of the absentee votes that remain to be counted.

Allegheny County's absentee ballots are included in that count, but the absentee ballots in the three other counties in the district have yet to be counted: 1,195 in Washington County, 1,808 in Westmoreland County, and 203 in Greene County, for a total of 3,204 absentee ballots yet to be counted.

Democrats and the media already are crowing that the results "should freak out Republicans" because they herald a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives in November.  But if Tip O'Neill's adage that "all politics are local" still holds, the celebrations may be premature.  In this race, there was near unanimity that Democrat Lamb was a far more photogenic individual than Republican Saccone, and it is worth considering that Lamb distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi and many of the policies of the national Democrats and supports President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum.


Saccone (left) and Lamb (right).

While the strong historical trend that a new president's party loses support in midterm elections is daunting, and while #resistance enthusiasm is strong – both factors powered the GOP's takeover of the House in 2010 – it is too soon to predict that Democrats will gain a House majority.  The Democrats have virtually committed themselves to vote to impeach President Trump if they gain a majority and are still basing their fanatical opposition to him on a narrative of Russian collusion that threatens to explode in their faces with pending investigations by the DOJ inspector general and a grand jury in Little Rock, Arkansas.

There is no way to cast even a barely possible Saccone narrow victory as good news for the GOP, but the celebrations on the left – Lamb has declared victory – risk overconfidence and, with that, counterproductive enthusiasm for impeachment.