Republicans Reeling After Big Loss in Pennsylvania

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and likely Democratic opponent Jason Crow

In 2016, Donald Trump carried Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District by nearly 20 points over Democrat Hillary Clinton. A mere 16 months later, a massive political shift appears to have delivered a new House seat for Democrats.

As the Washington Post reports:

Republicans scrambled Wednesday to explain what happened in Pennsylvania, as a Democrat stood on the verge of a monumental win in a U.S. House special election that became a test of President Trump’s political clout.

While the race was still too close to call, Democrats were declaring victory as their candidate, Conor Lamb, clung to a narrow lead over Republican Rick Saccone in a district the president won by almost 20 points…

…House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to reassure his party that it would be difficult for Democrats to replicate their success in Pennsylvania across the country.

“This is something that you are not going to see repeated,” Ryan predicted.

Ryan’s post-special election bravado is surely designed to make Republican incumbents feel better, but there’s no way to sugarcoat the danger for the GOP in November. There are 119 House seats currently held by Republicans that are thought to be more competitive for Democrats than Pennsylvania’s 18th district. As Chris Cillizza notes for CNN:

This southwestern Pennsylvania district should have never been competitive — or even close to competitive. This is not a swing district. It is not even a Republican-leaning district. It is, based on past presidential performance and congressional level results, a comfortably Republican seat.

And if comfortably Republican seats like Pennsylvania’s 18th are competitive in this sort of national environment — an unpopular president in the White House, Democratic base voters fired up over the prospect of sending Donald Trump a message — then there are a whole lot of GOP members of Congress who need to start worrying this morning. [Pols emphasis]

According to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index (PVI), Pennsylvania’s 18th district has a PVI rating of R+11, which is a basic measure of how the district has performed compared to the rest of the country in recent Presidential elections. In Colorado, only two incumbent Republicans reside in districts with a better PVI rating (R+14 in CD-5, and R+13 in CD-4).

Based on these numbers, Rep. Scott Tipton (R+6) and Rep. Mike Coffman (D+2) should be very nervous about their re-election chances. Of course, Coffman has beaten these odds before — Hillary Clinton carried CD-6 by 9 points in 2016, and Coffman still defeated Democrat Morgan Carroll 51-43 — but Coffman has never faced headwinds quite like those that are brewing in 2018. In late February, a poll showing Democrat Jason Crow with a 5-point lead on Coffman was the first public poll that has ever found Coffman in second place in CD-6.

Conor Lamb’s victory in Pennsylvania completely flips the script for Republican in another metric: Republican campaign committees and Super PACs outspent Democrats by a better than 5-to-1 margin and still couldn’t hold what should have been a safe Republican seat.

The blue wave is coming.

32 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Davie says:

    Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired with Trump's nonsense, and his apologists and enablers in the Republican Party.

    Paul Ryan is welcome to stick his head in the sand and encourage members of his party to do the same.  Fill your lungs with sand — please, be my guest!

  2. There are 119 Republican-held districts that have a lower R PVI than PA-18. Democrats need to flip 23 seats if my calculations are correct. The last Blue Wave in 2006 saw a House pickup of 30 seats – and Democratic enthusiasm then was not as strong as it is now.

    Without the Senate, though, Democrats will still be in a losing position. We have to stop the tide of radical right-wing appointments.

  3. Lamb raised significantly morein direct campaign contributions than did Saccone, but outside spending on the GOP side swamped the Dem combined total. We won't know the final figures for a while, but it's likely Dems were outspent by a factor of between 2 and 3 to 1.

  4. RepealAndReplace says:

    And they can't chalk this up to the GOP candidate being a pedophile. Saccone may have scored somewhere between Lamborn and Tipton in the charisma department but he was a presentable candidate.

  5. Also, for those wondering… the AP had not called the race as of the morning news. Absentee ballots are still being counted. However, Pennsylvania is one of those states that limits mailed ballots to those with a defined need; there aren't that many absentee ballots out there.

  6. JohnInDenver says:

    I'm wondering if the trend of young military veteran versus tired politician could work in Republican primaries.

    Doug Lamborn versus Owen Hill or Darryl Glenn — hmmm, who looks fit and ready to take on the world?



  7. Diogenesdemar says:

    Perhaps this is just an unintended consequence of Americans being sick and tired of so much winning?

  8. Diogenesdemar says:

    Note to Melania Einstein’s infrequent occasional spouse:  Spose’ we can call off those trade-destroying tariffs now?

  9. Diogenesdemar says:

    The way that brave and independent-minded Rep. Coffman has consistently stood up to Trump?  What me worry, right, Mike?

    Stay the course Mr. Coffman, the voters of Colorado will reward you some day . . . 

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Well he did vote against repealing Obamacare but Ryan wouldn't give him a pass on the big, beautiful tax bill. And Mikey has been a complete asshole on DACA.

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