Republicans Face First Test Of Tax Cuts' Power To Sway Voters

Mark Marran, an operations manager for a Fortune 500 company, voted for Donald Trump. Two weeks ago he noticed an extra $100 in his bimonthly pay check, courtesy of sweeping tax cuts passed by the Republican Congress late last year.

Marran says the extra cash is nice, but it will not change his life.

These are worrying words for the GOP, which is banking on the tax cuts pushed by President Trump to help Republicans retain control of the House and Senate in midterm elections this November.

A crucial early test is set for March 13 here in western Pennsylvania. Republican candidate Rick Saccone, a conservative Trump loyalist, is vying to win a special election for a congressional seat in a district that the president won by 19 points in 2016.

Yet recent polls show a tightening race in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, where Republicans typically enjoy a double-digit advantage.

Saccone, meanwhile, has been touting Trump’s signature legislative achievement as a boon for the middle class. “Tax cuts are changing lives,” says one of Saccone’s TV spots. But it remains to be seen whether the four-term state representative can persuade tax-cut skeptics such as Marran and Smith.

The special election, which will fill a seat left vacant when incumbent Republican congressman Tim Murphy quit amid personal scandal, is an early litmus test for the GOP tax message, said Ford O‘Connell, a Republican strategist.

It is “a trial run,” heading into November, he said. “Trump obviously wants to hold the seat and Trump wants to find out if he has delivered enough to keep voters happy.”

O’Connell, the Republican strategist, is optimistic the tax message will gain traction. Middle-class voters could well warm to the tax cuts by November, he said. And he believes Saccone will win next month.

Read more from Tim Reid at Reuters

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