Conor Lamb finally gave Democrats their blueprint to win back the House in November: support the second amendment, support trump’s tariffs, support fracking, call for Medicaid cuts, replace identity politics with patriotism, serve honorably in the U.S. Marines, dog whistle as often as possible that you are a Democrat in name only, and throw Nancy Pelosi so far under the bus they’ll need a backhoe to excavate her.
An ABC News story declared, “The stakes are high in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election” because “Democrats and Republicans are closely watching the results for indications of how the 2018 midterm elections may play out and for signs of which party might control the House of Representatives after November.” In other words, it has high tea-leaf value for partisan pundits who want to go on TV and shake these election results like a Magic 8-Ball. “Will there be a blue wave in November?”
Shake. Shake. Shake.
“Blue wave it is! The Magic PA-18-Ball has spoken.”
Unfortunately, there couldn’t be a worse measure of what will happen in November than this unrepresentative special election. To put it in terms prediction traffickers can understand, “Reply hazy, try again.”
Here are four reasons the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district really was “special,” and won’t be replicated anywhere in November:
1. There was no incumbent.
Incumbency is king in Congressional elections— that’s Swamp Politics 101. In 2016, 97 percent of House incumbents won reelection, and in 2014, 95 percent of incumbents won reelection. It’s Aladdin’s lamp, the One Ring, and all three Deathly Hallows all rolled into one. The incumbent (a.k.a. the chosen one) has a previously charted, previously paved road to victory while his opponent is trekking through the electoral jungle with a machete. With no incumbent in the race, both candidates were forced map out a path to victory. Conor Lamb got the job done while Rick Saccone failed miserably. In this race, there was no incumbency advantage at all. In November, about 215 House Republicans will run as incumbents vs about 184 Democrats.
2. The Republican who previously held the seat disgraced himself.
Republican Tim Murphy was first elected in 2002 and won reelection 7 more times before he was forced to resign in disgrace. For information on what he did, let’s turn to the moderator’s opening question in the March 3 Lamb-Saccone debate: “ We are here tonight because Tim Murphy made career ending mistakes…. Congressman Murphy, who is pro-life and voted that way reportedly asked his mistress to have an abortion when he thought she was pregnant… was hostile in his congressional offices. Some staffers reported of being afraid of Mr. Murphy… impossible demands, personal insults… threats.” Great start to the big debate when you’re the next guy from that party asking the people for their trust. The party was bound to suffer local electoral consequences for Murphy’s rampant scum-baggery and gross hypocrisy.
3. Conor Lamb is a rare Democrat.
Conor Lamb is the six-leaf clover of Democrats, an original Honus Wagner card, a mint-condition Action Comics issue #1 featuring the first appearance of Superman. Democrats will take back the House in November if they run candidates like Conor Lamb in districts across the country. Lamb is a pro-second amendment Catholic who rejects Obama-Pelosi style identity politics, and he’s pro Trump’s steel tariffs. One could easily mistake him for one of those “bitter clingers” President Obama was warning us about back in 2011.
In the debate, the moderator pulled a question from Facebook and asked Conor Lamb to name three issues where he broke with the Democratic party. Drawing that question as a Democrat running in a Republican district is the political equivalent of Charlie Bucket unwrapping the final Golden Ticket. Having declared himself a second amendment supporter, a supporter of President Trump’s tariffs and a supporter of infrastructure legislation in the last three questions, he decided this time to go with healthcare, fracking, and Nancy Pelosi is awful.
4. Conor Lamb didn’t have to win a democratic primary.
This is the big reason a Conor Lamb victory cannot be replicated anywhere else. If Conor Lamb had been forced to compete with other Democrats in a Democratic primary, he’d have been forced to make his most leftist views public or lose to some Bernie Sanders disciple. Instead, he was able to stake claim to Saccone’s ideological territory. He didn’t have to applaud identity politics or wax apocalyptic about Trump’s policies to secure the nomination; it was handed to him.
Conor Lamb squeaked out a win in a district Trump won by 20 points, but he didn’t run 20 points to the left of Trump. In fact, most of the ideological real estate he sold to voters in the 18th district was located squarely in Trump Country.
Eddie Zipperer is a political science professor at Georgia Military College.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.