Conor Lamb, a Democrat, shouldn’t have a shot in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. The district voted for Mitt Romney by 17 points in 2012 and for Donald Trump in 2016. But with less than 24 hours until polls open, Lamb is neck-and-neck with Rick Saccone, the Republican running to fill the seat of Tim Murphy, who resigned after it was revealed that he had a mistress and had asked her to have an abortion.
Lamb has run an effective, gaffe-free campaign designed at winning over Republican-leaning voters. He has also distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi, expressed support for gun ownership, and has walked a tightrope on abortion—which he says he personally opposes, although he doesn’t support legislation to change the status quo. But the biggest reason PA-18 is a toss-up is that Donald Trump is enormously unpopular—particularly among college-educated voters, who are well-represented in the district. Saccone may ultimately prevail, but that doesn’t change the likely takeaway from the election: that Democrats could retake the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms.
If Saccone does lose, Trump is already hinting that he will blame the candidate and absolve himself of any responsibility. On Sunday, Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported that “Trump thinks Saccone is a terrible, ‘weak’ candidate.” Citing Saccone’s lackluster fundraising, Republicans are arguing that if Saccone loses he has no one to blame but himself.