Polls Close at 8 p.m. in High-Stakes Special Election

The DCCC made a quiet investment to boost Conor Lamb via voter turnout and digital ads.

Ally Mutnick
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Ally Mutnick
March 13, 2018, 11:13 a.m.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday in the high-stakes special election between former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb (D) and state Rep. Rick Saccone (R). The official results can be found here. (Pennsylvania Secretary of State)

KEEPING IT LOCAL. “In ads, rallies, and stump speeches, Conor Lamb has turned the avalanche of spending by national Republicans into a populist rallying cry that has him on the verge of an upset special-election victory in the heart of Trump country. GOP outside groups have dumped more than $7 million into a barrage of negative ads in Pennsylvania’s 18th District as of late last week, according to media-buying data, casting the Democratic former federal prosecutor as everything from soft on crime to a crony of their favorite boogeyman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.” Lamb: “Think of everything they could do for working people with $1 million a day, other than run these ridiculous ads.”

“Lamb, who is neck-and-neck with Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a district that the president won by 20 points, worked tirelessly to keep his focus local, insulate himself from the toxicity of the Democratic Party brand here, and turn Republican attempts to nationalize the race against Saccone.”

“Lamb, who broke with his party on an assault-weapons ban, fracking, and Medicare-for-all, would be one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress. And that likely helps him earn crucial support from voters who backed President Trump. ‘Not a single person so far has stopped talking to me based on who they voted for in 2016,’ Lamb said in an interview. ‘Most people don’t bring it up, and I never ask.’” (Hotline reporting)

BEHIND THE SCENES. The DCCC quietly invested more than $1 million in the race in a “multi-pronged effort” that “included significant investments in field staff, NFL-themed digital ads, and a last-minute get-out-the-vote effort to pull Lamb across the finish line. It also included a nearly $450,000 infusion into the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, money used to fund voter outreach.”

“The DCCC’s most overt help came last month, when it spent nearly $260,000 on TV ads. But the group also invested $170,000 on get-out-the-vote digital ads and $160,000 for field staff and polling, according to a source. The spending on field staff dates back to December, that source said.” (McClatchy)

BY THE NUMBERS. Lamb led Saccone in a Monmouth University poll (March 8-11; 372 LVs; +/- 5.1%) under three different turnout scenarios. Lamb won by 6 points if Democratic turnout surges as it has in past special elections. Under a higher overall turnout model, he notched a 7-point win and under low turnout he won by 2 points. Independents prefer Lamb by 51 percent to 45 percent. (release)

ON THE TRAIL. Donald Trump Jr. spent the final day of campaigning with Saccone, “around 1 p.m., at a sprawling candy and ice cream shop famous throughout the 18th District. … Trump, who went to prep school and college in southeastern Pennsylvania, posed with the store’s manager in front of a towering chocolate castle. … Saccone’s campaign had not scheduled a press availability before or after the tour. But after Trump and Saccone settled in the store’s ice cream parlor — ‘If I have two scoops, the media will call it a scandal,’ Trump said — reporters crowded around to ask about the state of the race. Trump stayed on message, describing Democratic nominee Conor Lamb as a Trojan horse candidate who would go to Washington to vote against his father.” (Washington Post)

SAY WHAT? “The chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party said Monday the special election in which Democrat Conor Lamb is running neck-and-neck with Republican Rick Saccone is in a ‘Democrat district,’ even though it was represented by a Republican for more than a decade and President Donald Trump won it handily in 2016.” (Politico)

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