The votes are in for Pennsylvania’s 18th district special election, and Democrat Conor Lamb – at least as of now – holds a tenuous 641 vote lead over Republican Rick Saccone.
There will, I assume, be a recount. And either Lamb will retain his lead or lose by a hair – in a district Donald Trump carried by 20% in 2016.
Much will be made of this. And not without good reason, given that it comes on the heels of Democrats winning a series of other special elections – mostly state rather than congressional elections – over the past few months.
But let’s remember that, like the Doug Jones/Roy Moore race in Alabama, this was something of an anomaly.
-Rick Saccone, I have read, was an uninspiring candidate who ran an awful race.
-Conor Lamb, by contrast, is a young (33 year old), dynamic former marine, who took positions on guns and social issues that could as easily have made him the Republican candidate as the Democrat one.
Come the midterm elections, Democrats will not be running many candidates like Conor Lamb. And if they do, they will be telling us – or, at any rate, trying to tell us – that they have markedly changed as a party and lurched far from the leftward place they have increasingly moved to over recent years.
That’s not going to happen.
If it turns out that Lamb wins, it will be interesting to see whether this supposedly conservative Democrat votes the way his campaign suggests he will, or winds up toeing the party line – thus giving Republicans a potentially effective campaign angle: “don’t believe Democrats who tell you they’re moderate, Conor Lamb proves it’s all an act”.