A massive vote swing against Donald Trump and the Republicans in western Pennsylvania has put the party in jeopardy of losing a gerrymandered district it has previously had no trouble winning to a resurgent Democratic Party hungry for more special election victories ahead of the 2018 midterms.
With 99% of the vote counted, Democratic congressional hopeful Conor Lamb — a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and Assistant United States District Attorney — had an extremely slim lead over Republican opponent Rick Saccone. Over 200,000 ballots have been cast in the contest thus far, and the two candidates are virtually tied with only a few ballots left to count — most of them absentee ballots.
As of 7:50 PM Pacific Time, results were:
- Democratic candidate Conor Lamb: 49.87% (107,556 votes)
- Republican candidate Rick Saccone: 49.52% (106,801 votes)
- Libertarian candidate Drew Gray Miller: 0.61% (1,309 votes)
On CNN, a top elections official from Washington County called in live not long ago to report fresh numbers, which (once incorporated into the overall numbers) temporarily cut Lamb’s lead to just ninety-five votes overall.
That’s a gap in the double digits!
There are four counties with precincts in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. Three of them are backing Rick Saccone, while the fourth — Allegheny — is backing Conor Lamb. That’s his stronghold, and his support there has been the key to his performance so far. Allegheny is the state’s second largest county overall; its county seat is Pittsburgh. Officials there just finished counting absentee and provisional ballots, and the results gave a significant boost to Conor Lamb.
Not counting the just tallied absentee ballots, Lamb has a healthy 57.10% of the vote in Allegheny County. It’s that strong showing that has allowed him to maintain a lead over Saccone for much of the night. In Washington County, he has 46.30%, in Westmoreland County, he has 42.25%, and in Greene County, he has 41.33%.
The 18th District will look very different in just a few months due to court-ordered changes to Pennsylvania’s congressional district maps. (Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled not long ago that the current map is an unconstitutional gerrymander).
Regardless of who wins, this is already a disastrous result for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Trump easily won this district in 2016 by a margin of twenty points. A year and a half later, it’s on the verge of being lost to the Democrats.
UPDATE, 8:13 PM: The official count has been adjusted to reflect the absentee ballots from Allegheny County. These are now the current numbers.
- Democratic candidate Conor Lamb: 49.89% (111,875 votes)
- Republican candidate Rick Saccone: 49.51% (111,028 votes)
- Libertarian candidate Drew Gray Miller: 0.6% (1,351 votes)
This is a developing story and we will continue to post updates.