Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Tougher Test For Democrats Than Alabama Was-- PA-18... What Happens When There Are No Black Voters?


Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district is in the southwest corner of the state. Most of the voters live in the hilly suburbs west, south and east of Pittsburgh although there are large rural sections of the district in Washington and Greene counties. The 2015 PVI (R+10) slipped to R+11 this year after Trump won the district 58.1% to 38.5%. Until he resigned in October when it was disclosed that he asked his extramarital girlfriend to get an abortion, Tim Murphy was a shoo-in for reelection.. First elected in 2002, Murphy didn't even draw a Democratic opponent last year or in 2014.

A special election is scheduled for March 13. It doesn't seem very likely a Democrat can win. It's just too red and the Republicans will spend whatever it takes to hold on there. It's white, working class and non-college educated. The Democratic Party apparatus is rusty and the party has forgotten how to fight in this part of Pennsylvania. Their candidate, selected at a local party convention, is former Marine and former assistant U.S. Attorney Conor Lamb, a conservative Democrat, unlikely to stir up any excitement other than anti-Trump excitement. Is that enough-- especially in that red a district? I'm guessing not. lamb is from an old Pittsburgh establishment family, related to a former mayor. But his pathetic website is a DCCC stereotype with no issues, just biography.

After winning even more Republican-oriented Alabama (R+14), the Democratic establishment feels they can win with a Republican-lite candidate. What they're not factoring in is that state Rep. Rick Saccone isn't a scandal-scarred crackpot like Roy Moore... and their are no motivated minorities to count on for a base. In Alabama Doug Jones acknowledged that he won his narrow victory because the super-charged Africa-American turnout (29% of the total vote) went for him by 96% (among black women, it was 98%!). PA-18 is over 93% white and just 2.3% black and 1.1% Hispanic.

Saccone is anti-Choice, pro-NRA and is always screaming about schools displaying the "In God We Trust" motto. Lamb is running as a law and order candidate with a strong stance about fixing the opioid crisis. And professional Democrats view him as a handsome white man. His innate conservatism is making him an easy victim of the GOP "He's Nancy Pelosi's puppet" strategy, just as it did in the case of Jon Ossoff in a district that looked much easier for the Democrats to flip.

All that said, it isn't impossible. Democrats have a slight registration advantage from the days when John Murtha represented much of the district and unions still have some clout if they decide to mobilize for Lamb. Suburban voters in Alleghany and Westmoreland county, who have trended Republican, will determine the winner. And that will mean a lot of Trump voters switching. Most of Westmoreland County, the biggest source of voters, is in the 18th district. Last year, voters there went for Trump 116,427 (64.1%) to 59,506 (32.7%). Rural Greene County falls entirely within PA-18 and voters there went for Trump 10,394 (69.5%) to 4,157 (27.8%).

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At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A better question for all districts is: what happens when the R is NOT exposed as a child molester?

At 5:52 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

If these blue dog dems win at all, it will reinforce the republican lite stance of Pelosi, Schumer, etc. The dam party has a real chance to take over but waffling in the middle will not do it for them. Take a stand!

At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, if Pelosi and hoyer and the rest of the leadershit win re-election again, guaranteed, they'll take THAT as validation that their corruption is the correct way to go. A few progressive frosh won't mean dick to them nor their donors.

Their huge losses in 2010 and 2016 didn't change their thinking or actions. How will winning again?

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A few progressive frosh won't mean dick to them nor their donors."

Just ask Al Franken. He knows from experience how that works. Someone tell Elizabeth Burton. Maybe she will believe you.


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