Special election in Pennsylvania is too close to call

March 2, 2018

A high-profile political prognosticator has changed its projections for a House special election in Pennsylvania to favor the Democratic candidate, The Hill reported on February 27.

The Cook Political Report now says that the March 13 race for a seat in the Keystone State’s 18th District is now a “toss-up ”—with State Representative Rick Saccone (R) enjoying only a single-digit lead over Conor Lamb (D), although President Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.

The race is “exceedingly close,” the Cook newsletter said.

According to The Hill, Lamb raised nearly three times as much as Saccone in 2017—giving him more money fo political advertising. GOP leadership has had to spend millions backing up Saccone to keep up with the 33-year-old challenger.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), House Republicans’ campaign arm, has put $2.2 million into bolstering Saccone, The Hill reported. Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backing the GOP majority, has spent another $2.7 million.

Cook noted the ads have focused on aligning Saccone with Trump and the GOP tax cuts.

Lamb, a Democratic prosecutor, has promised to protect Social Security and Medicare from funding cuts, while staying strategically silent and moderate on hot-button issues such as abortion and fracking, and also distancing himself from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California). 

The congressional seat opened up after Republican Representative Tim Murphy, who had been staunchly anti-abortion, resigned in October 2017  following reports that he had asked his mistress to get an abortion.

Some turnout models show Saccone taking a wider lead on election day, but the Lamb campaign could surge with a high turnout from college graduates, The Hill reports.

The race has been the focus of a national spotlight, with Vice President Pence appearing at a rally for Saccone earlier this month.

Research contact: @JTDelk

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