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bbert1994

Conor Lamb's surprise upset in Trump Country proves the map for the GOP is going to be rocky terrain

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Rep. elect Conor Lamb's upset victory over Trump backed Rick Saccone has caused alarm bells at the RNC to go off. Though the GOP attempt to discredit the victory by mentioning his political positions, the fact of the matter is that they are in trouble, and they know it. Breaking down the numbers make it even more frightening for the Republicans. Donald Trump won this congressional district by roughly 19.5 percentage points, rounded to 20. A 20 point swing is unprecedented in a district that has little elasticity. Elasticity measures the frequency that members of a party will cross-over and vote for the opposing party.

Take the state as a whole. There is not much volume in the vote margins. Pennsylvania is known for typically having closer elections, but usually consist of a Democratic victory. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly one million voters. The story of Pennsylvania is that the composition of the demographics and makeup of specific regions has changed drastically over the last 20 years. Looking to the 2000 election, Democratic Vice President Al Gore won most of the southwestern Pennsylvania counties, while then President George W. Bush won most of the Philadelphia suburbs. Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump won most of those Gore counties by double digits, while Hillary Clinton won the Philadelphia suburbs by double digits. But the state's central region has a large conservative base with pockets of Democratic counties in between. This is the area that decides races in Pennsylvania. Take my hometown of Scranton. President Barack Obama won my county with 63 percent of the vote, while Hillary Clinton won it with 49 percent. If the Democratic candidate can not perform well in the few areas that are typically more Democratic in center PA, they will probably lose the state.

But back to elasticity. If the rest of PA is more elastic than the district Mr. Lamb won, that makes Mr. Lamb's victory even more shocking, and puts the GOP on course for a blowout loss in 2018. I say this because if the Democrats were able to convince enough Republican voters to vote Democratic in a place that its not common, I have no doubt that places with more moderate and independent leaning voters will follow suit, giving Democrats the 24 needed seats to take control of Congress.

Credit to Nate Silver's 538 blog for teaching me about elasticity.
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  1. <alt>doxygen's Avatar
    Just an odd aside/anectdote:
    I have a sister who lives in a rural (super-exurb) township in Bucks county. She must be right on the edge of a red/blue divide, or where there are actual independents because the last 3 elections could have been successfully called by gauging the voter sentiment in that general area. Just her talking to people and observing the type and number of yard signs.

    I had a feeling Trump would win despite the polls, just based on that.

    The area IS changing as the population grows and more McMansions fill in...

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