Momentum, in politics, matters.
People like to be on the winning team. Winning energizes supporters, swelling turnout and, thus, leading to more winning; conversely, losing depresses supporters and turnout drops, leading to more losing.
This is the ‘science’ behind mass political rallies, yard signs, candidate supporting merchandise, etc. A feeling of winning actually creates more winning (arguably, Trump’s whole career). This is, in fact, why Trump continuously boasts that Republicans are 5-0 in House Special Elections since he entered the Oval Office (conveniently ignoring the other electoral losses his party has suffered in that same period).
A Democratic win in Pennsylvania’s Special Election, in a district Trump carried by more than 20 points in the 2016 Presidential Election, would not only belie that narrative, it would shatter Trump’s famous “base“, much like the 2016 Presidential Election shattered Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall“.
Make no mistake, Pennsylvania’s 18th District is Trump country: 21 points more Republican than the nation, saturated with white blue collar and rural voters, and located in the industrial Midwest that broke for Trump in 2016 securing him the Electoral College.
A loss here would be devastating to the Trump brand, and Trump knows it – that’s why Republicans have poured in over $10 million in outside money into the race, it’s why Trump himself and Trump’s top surrogates have personally invested their political capital into this race.
It may even be why Trump announced the steel tariffs just last week, at the cost of his own economic adviser, a trade war with America’s own allies, and a potential revolt by his own party – all in a bid to bolster Trump’s image in this part of the Pennsylvania’s steel country.
A loss to Conor Lamb in Trump country would almost certainly lead to the following rippling effect:
- Trump’s “base” would begin to unravel. If he can lose in a heavily partisan Trump country district that he won by 20+ points less than a year after assuming office, he will be vulnerable everywhere.
- Democrats would be emboldened, flipping their first House seat since Trump took office, further bolstering a “Blue Wave” of momentum that they hope will take them all the way capturing the majority in Congress in November (a little less than 8 months away).
- Because Saccone has run a pro-Trump campaign, aligning himself with both the Trump brand and the Trump agenda, a loss would signal to Republicans (particularly vulnerable Republicans) the need to distance themselves from Trump in the lead up to November, creating a schism between the President and his own party that would weaken Trump and his agenda (which the Democrats would, naturally, exploit in November).
- Not only would a Conor Lamb win bolster Democratic turnout throughout the country, but it would have the same effect on Democratic fundraising as Democratic donors would be emboldened.
- Conversely, should Saccone prevail, it would be the Republican Party, its supporters and donors who would be more emboldened, more united behind Trump, and more ingratiating to Trump’s “base“.
For these reasons, the Democrats need Conor Lamb to win Pennsylvania’s Special Election.