Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Special congressional election in Pennsylvania is a possible litmus test for blue-collar union voters' allegiance

Today's special election for a congressional seat in southwestern Pennsylvania is an "acid test for the allegiance of working-class voters," Trip Gabriel reports for The New York Times. Union leadership is backing Democrat Conor Lamb, but it's unclear if the rank-and-file union members in the district, who care more about social issues and voted heavily for Trump in 2016, will follow their lead.

Conor Lamb, state Rep. Rick Saccone
Because of this possible symbolism, months before the midterm elections, both Republican political committees and small-donor Democrats from all over the country have poured millions of dollars into the race. Democrats want to shore up the narrative of a "blue wave" of rising anti-Trump and anti-Republican sentiment, and Republicans want to prove that Trump's connection with blue-collar workers is solid.

President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. have appeared at recent rallies for Saccone, and this morning the president tweeted: "The Economy is raging, at an all time high, and is set to get even better. Jobs and wages up. Vote for Rick Saccone and keep it going," the Observer-Reporter in Washington, Pa., reports. Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America and a member of the AFL-CIO's executive council, pitched Lamb to union workers as a "God-fearing, union-supporting, gun-owning, job-protecting, pension-defending Democrat" in a recent speech, Brent Scher reports for the Washington Free Beacon.

Monmouth University poll found that 51 percent of voters polled said they support Lamb, compared to 45 percent for Saccone; that's nearly a 10-percentage point swing over last month's poll, in which Saccone had a small edge. Poll director Patrick Murray said, "This district has voted overwhelmingly Republican in recent elections, but a large number of these voters have blue-collar Democratic roots. Lamb seems to have connected with them."

The poll was unclear about whether Trump's steel tariffs, which could help Saccone, had much effect on the race. Click here for updates on the race throughout the day from the Observer-Reporter.

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