Win Or Lose, Too-Close-To-Call Pennsylvania Race Already Means 'The House Is In Danger' For Republicans

Pennsylvania's crucial, too-close-to-call special election yielded no definitive winner early Wednesday morning. Not that it really matters either way. It's already a dreadful outcome for Republicans now doubting whether they can hold the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall.

Even before the count is complete for the remaining 3,000-plus absentee ballots for Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone, the toss-up special election in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district is an unnerving setback for Republicans, simply by virtue of this being a contest in the first place.

Trump won the predominantly white and working-class voting district by nearly 20 points in 2016. Mitt Romney carried it by 17 points in 2012.

And yet, with all precincts reporting, Lamb had eked out a lead of fewer than 600 votes, though some absentee ballots were yet to be counted. Lamb declared victory early Wednesday, but Saccone has not conceded.

However it pans out, the margins have improved dramatically for Democrats since 2016. A 20-per-cent swing is nothing to sniff at, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, who knows Pennsylvania's 18th well.

"This shows the Republicans what a tough climate they're in," O'Connell said. "We don't know if it's a blue wave, but one thing's for sure: Republicans should certainly be scared."

If Republicans weren't panicking before, it's time, he said.

"They need to be getting off their duffs, knocking on doors and dialling for dollars. Because this should be a wake-up call for Republicans that the House is in danger."

Read more from Matt Kwong at CBC News

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