Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Democrat holds slim lead on eve of PA-18 election, poll finds

Democrat holds slim lead on eve of PA-18 election, poll finds

MOUNT LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA In a district US President Donald Trump swept in 2016, the unfathomable has become the possible: a Democrat could win today's special election.

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Pence says "the only thing at stake is everything" in the race between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

President Donald Trump won this area by 20 points in 2016, and even in the most heavily Democratic precincts in the district right around Pittsburgh, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only won on average 56 percent of the vote.

"The Democrats have nominated the ideal candidate, because he fits the profile of the electorate".

Trump Jr. said his father's policies would help bring back businesses that have relocated overseas, saying, "I've been sick of watching other people in foreign lands living our American dream".

These results came despite Trump's recent announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs, which many perceived as an effort to please steel-working constituents like those who reside in the 18th district. So the hats will have a new slogan Trump rolled out Saturday night - Keep America Great, with an exclamation point.

But the dynamics have changed in the district, which runs from wealthy suburbs south of Pittsburgh through hardscrabble steel and coal mining towns to farmlands along the West Virginia border. But after Trump and Saccone settled in the store's ice cream parlor - "If I have two scoops, the media will call it a scandal", Trump said - reporters crowded around to ask about the state of the race. Lamb said he would not describe himself as "pro-life" because he believes the term is political.

Public polls show a statistical tie between Lamb and Saccone, according to RealClearPolitics and Talking Points Memo.

"Just because my father's not on the ticket, they have to show up and vote", he said. "Let me tell you, they're energized for hate for our president".

The White House has arranged a string of visits to energize Saccone's base. Because, as always, an endorsement of Donald Trump is nothing but an endorsement of himself.

Trump Jr. was the latest in a line of national pro-Trump figures to appear with Saccone, a strong Trump supporter who boasts one of the most conservative voting records in Pennsylvania's Legislature.

"God knows, if it's going to make it hard for Trump, the media's going to be all over it", said Trump.

Congressional candidate Rick Saccone has struggled more than Republicans in southwest Pennsylvania usually do.

One percent of voters polled support a third-party candidate, while 3 percent remain undecided.

Lamb is "a very attractive candidate, and the optics of comparison between them have not been favorable to Saccone", Harold said.

He blasts the new Republican tax law as a gift to the wealthy and a threat to Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans have also found it harder than expected to mount effective attacks on Lamb's positions on abortion, guns and the national Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters. Former Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Lamb four days earlier.

According to Kimball, voter participation varies widely in special elections, and can drop below 30 percent in off-year elections.

Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to gain House control in November. Democrats are targeting dozens of districts where the president got a lower vote share than the 58 percent he received in Pennsylvania's 18th District 16 months ago.

Tuesday's election has little bearing on the current balance of power in the House.

While the telegenic young Lamb has impressed even Republicans with his disciplined campaign, and calculated splits with the national Democratic Party, Republicans have blasted Saccone for weak fundraising, an inability to tell his own story as a veteran, his deep hostility to unions in a union-heavy district, and past mistakes like telling a mother whose kid had died of opioid abuse that addiction was a "family responsibility" and it's not taxpayers' responsibility to help, a brutal remark in a district where opioids are a serious problem.

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