In a closely watched special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, Democrat Conor Lamb has pulled to within three points of Trump-endorsed GOP candidate Rick Saccone – a statistical tie.
According to a new Monmouth University poll released Thursday, Saccone leads 49 percent to 46 percent – within the poll’s margin of error.
The fact that the race is essentially tied is stunning given the fact that, as Politico noted a short time ago, Donald Trump won the district by 20 percentage points in 2016.
In a special election this close, turnout and voter enthusiasm is likely going to make all the difference.
More on the Democratic enthusiasm surge from Monmouth:
Democratic voters are generally more engaged in this race than are Republicans. Among likely voters, 48% of Democrats compared with 26% of Republicans say they are following the PA18 special election closely. Among all potential voters interviewed for the poll – including those unlikely to vote in this contest – Democrats (65%) are more likely than Republicans (50%) to say they have a lot of interest in this race.
“The fact that Saccone does better among all potential voters than he does in any of the probable turnout models is a clear sign of higher enthusiasm among Democrats. However, this district’s strong Republican bent may simply be too high a hurdle for Lamb to overcome,” said Murray.
Democratic enthusiasm could push Conor Lamb to an upset victory
While this district is clearly Republican-leaning, Democratic engagement and widespread disappointment in Donald Trump is giving Conor Lamb a chance to pull off another Democratic upset.
The same thing unfolded at the end of last year in the Alabama senate race between Democratic nominee Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. The final RealClearPolitics average showed Moore leading by more than two points going into election day, but Democratic enthusiasm boosted Jones to a stunning victory.
In Pennsylvania, a similar outcome could be in the works as polling shows a close race between Lamb and Saccone. Strong turnout among motivated progressives could easily close the gap in the race.
In a year when Democratic enthusiasm is through the roof and support for Donald Trump is in the cellar, not even the reddest districts are completely safe for Republicans.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.