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13 March 2018, 10:19 | Devin Moran
Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli reports on the special congressional election in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Republican voter Carol Thomas, who says she is backing GOP candidate Rick Saccone in this Tuesday's special congressional election, told CNN on Monday that she believes the president's weekend rally would actually make it more hard for Republicans to hold the seat. "That's the kind of candidate, the kind of campaign, that Democrats might try to imitate moving forward". "Lamb seems to have connected with them", director of Monmouth University Polling Institute Patrick Murray said.
That fact alone is bad news for Republicans, who have easily carried this suburban Pittsburgh district for years.
And for Democrats, this special election comes down to how to put the entire U.S. House of Representatives in play.
But the outcome promises to reverberate well beyond the suburbs, small towns and rural swaths that surround Pittsburgh in a region known for its once-dominant steel and coal concerns.
This is the second consecutive high profile race, after the Alabama US Senate clash, in which Trump's preferred candidate fell short even with the President's blessing and an overwhelmingly red electorate.
"So... prediction? If Democratic turnout is activated, and Lamb's field operation has been successful in the last week, Lamb stands a good chance of winning by a point or two".
For example, a Gravis poll taken at the beginning of March showed Saccone with a two-point lead in the race while an Emerson poll showed Lamb leading by three points.
Political science professor at Clarion University Kevan Yenerall said: "If the Democrats are able to come close, or win this, it will send shock waves across the political world".
"I think what's happening is, there's some buyer's remorse going on".
The White House has arranged a string of visits to energize Saccone's base. Because, as always, an endorsement of Donald Trump is nothing but an endorsement of himself.
In the end, the race will likely be determined by whether the local enthusiasm of Democrats is outweighed by President Trump's popularity.
TRUMP: You have to have him. For one thing, Lamb has himself offered qualified support for the tariffs - just as he has for some other controversial Trump initiatives such as a military parade in Washington on Veterans Day. "They need you to be fully dependent on them", he said.
Even if turnout winds up lower, looking more like a historical midterm election, the survey estimates Lamb has 49% support to Saccone's 47%. Tax cuts, the Republican Party's only major achievement under Trump, have done little to energize local voters, some of whom dismiss the sweeping tax overhaul as a giveaway to the wealthy.
The new face of a blue-collar family with political roots, Lamb is socially conservative and economically moderate, and backs the tariffs that Trump announced he is slapping on steel and aluminum imports. "The other side, all they have is hate".
His campaign claims to have reached more than 100,000 households with pledges to protect union jobs and pensions along with Medicare and Social Security programs for the elderly that account for almost one out of every five local residents.
The former US attorney assistant has vocally expressed his personal views on abortion and gun control and supported President Trump's recent steel and aluminum tariff legislation.
Lamb, however, has pledged not to support House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for another term as her party's House leader and says he will go his own way. She dismissed Lamb with the nickname the president had given him on Saturday night: "Lamb the Sham". He's said he personally opposes abortion. He favors enforcing existing gun laws and improving the current system of background checks over setting new gun restrictions. "The incredible Republican spending is going to have an effect, even though Lamb has been smart in not letting the race get nationalised like we saw in the special congressional election in Atlanta a year ago".
And beyond that, Trump in Pennsylvania said several headline-grabbing things that had nothing to do with the race and instead completely upstaged the candidate that Trump was ostensibly there to help - from praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to calling NBC News' Chuck Todd a "son of a bitch" to getting behind a deranged proposal to execute drug dealers.
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