For the first time in nearly 15 years, Republicans in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District could lose their grip on the seat.
On its face, Tuesday’s special congressional election in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania should be a breeze for the GOP. The Cook Political Report rates the district R+11 (due in part to partisan gerrymandering that the state Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional).
But now Democratic candidate Conor Lamb looks to be in a dead heat with Republican Rick Saccone. Last week, the Cook Political Report declared the race a toss-up, moving away from its previous “lean Republican” rating.
The latest poll from Monmouth University has Lamb leading Saccone using three different turnout models. For instance, if there’s a Democratic surge like there has been in recent special elections, Monmouth put Lamb with a 51 percent to 45 percent lead over Saccone. Using a model with lower turnout, Lamb still had a slight edge, leading Saccone 49 percent to 47 percent.
When Monmouth polled Pennsylvania voters last month, Saccone was in the lead. This is a big deal for a seat that used to be so solidly Republican that Democrats didn’t even compete for it.