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The Real Significance of the PA18 Election

Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district race between Conor Lamb and Rick Saccone is the talk of the nation at the moment. The hashtag #PA18 is filling up social media feeds. So, what’s going on? What’s it mean? And what’s the biggest takeaway from all this?

Special Election

This election was a special election held due to the resignation of Tim Murphy, a Republican. Mr. Murphy resigned last fall due to a scandal involving him allegedly asking a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair to get an abortion.

Why do people care?

Many see this special election as a good bellwether of how the Republican and Democratic parties will fare in the 2018 midterm elections.

What happened?

The young Democrat Conor Lamb currently leads by .2% over the Republican Rick Saccone with 100% of precincts reporting. There are some outstanding ballots, and the possibility of a recount, but many believe this lead will hold. This district went to President Trump by nearly 20% in the 2016 election.

What’s it mean?

First and foremost, the special election is an okay way to tell how the populace feels about President Trump’s performance. However, because House races have a lot more to do with local politics, it may not be the great bellwether many claim it to be in regards to Republican or Democrat control of the House come 2018’s midterms.

That being said, this district clearly feels President Trump isn’t living up to expectations. Despite the 2016 Presidential race going 20% to Trump, this race was extremely tight and the Democrat came out on top. Some of the support the Republicans lost could be due to local politics and the candidates themselves, but one can’t deny the drop had something to do with Trump’s ratings. For Republicans, this is clearly a warning signal and I’m sure many Republican representatives are starting to worry.

For the Democrats, this is a big win in a district that was deep red just a year and a half prior. However, it’s no magic formula for winning the midterms. Despite how much they’ll attribute this to the “blue wave”, this candidate was quite the moderate. Conor Lamb distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi, is weary of gun regulation, downplayed immigration and racial issues, and described himself as personally against abortion.

The Biggest Lesson Learned

The most important lesson learned from this election is that the people are fed up with both parties. And both parties should be nervous.

For starters, the race showed people obviously dislike the results coming from a Republican White House and Republican-controlled Congress. Next, despite being a Democrat, Conor Lamb ran on a platform that bucked party-norms. He embraced ideals that made sense for his district, not his party, and even distanced himself from party elite. When speaking about Nancy Pelosi, he stated, “I think it’s clear that this Congress is not working for people. I think we need new leadership on both sides.” Clearly the people agree.

So, although #PA18 isn’t the bellwether everyone says it is for Democrat and Republican chances during midterms, it is a bellwether for something else. This election proves people are getting tired of the way the current two-party system is operating. This election proves that people want candidates working for them, not the parties.

 

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