Back to random politics: The result is still to close to call in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District. At one point, the margin was less than 100 votes. It won't be final until all absentee ballots are counted and even then the loser could demand a recount, but it's obviously a stunning loss for the Republican Party.
After it was revealed that the serving Republican Congressman from the 18th had had an affair with a woman half his age and encouraged her to have an abortion to keep it secret, he resigned. This triggered a special election. The district is so solidly Republican that in past years, the Democrats didn't even bother fielding a candidate there. But this year they found a challenger who was young, conservative, and very media-savvy. He was up against a Christian reconstructionist
already serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who bragged that he was "Trump before Trump was Trump".
Despite the fact that the Democrat quickly raised more money, Republicans were complacent. After all, Trump carried the district by 20 points only 16 months ago. But then they saw polls indicating a dead heat and panicked. They poured money into the fight, outspending their opponent by nearly five times. They flew in major politicians to campaign for their man, including Trump himself. But their voters stayed home in droves and others flipped to vote Democrat instead of Republican.
If this were just a one-off, it wouldn't indicate much; it could be ascribed to any number of factors specific to this one race. (Apparently some Republicans are saying their candidate lost because of his mustache!) But it's consistent with what's been happening in other special elections across the country. On average, we're seeing a 12 point shift in favour of the Democrats from the last election. That's more than enough for the Democrats to take a majority of House seats in the November midterms. Republican incumbents are seeing the writing on the wall and retiring en masse
, which is important because of the advantage incumbency confers.