Capitol Ink | Trump Country Mile

Pennsylvania 18: A Red Flag for the GOP
The margins in a strong GOP district signal November worries for Republicans

Democrat Conor Lamb, left, and Republican Rick Saccone fought to a virtual draw for Pennsylvania’s open 18th District seat. (Courtesy Conor Lamb/Rick Saccone/Facebook)

The results in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District confirm problems for Republicans.

The size of the Democratic general election wave is still unclear, but something is happening. Districts won comfortably by President Donald Trump in 2016 are more competitive now, which suggests that districts won by Hillary Clinton are likely to go Democratic in the midterms.

Trump Says He Needs Rick Saccone Ahead of Pennsylvania Special Election
Thousands of steelworkers live in 18th District, site of Tuesday’s contest

President Donald Trump spoke Saturday night at a rally for Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a wide-ranging speech Saturday night outside Pittsburgh, President Donald Trump touted his agenda and plugged supporters to vote for Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in next week’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, telling voters he needs more GOP lawmakers in Congress to support his agenda. 

“The other opponent, his opponent, is not voting for us,” Trump said in Moon Township, referring to the Democrat nominee Conor Lamb. “He can say all he wants, there’s no way he’s voting for us ever, ever … Rick is going to vote for us all the time, all the time.”

Can Unions Push Conor Lamb to an Unlikely Victory in Pennsylvania?
Organized labor has deployed ground operation to boost 18th District Democrat

A campaign sign for Democrat Conor Lamb outside a painters union training center in Carnegie, Pa. The center is one of four union buildings where volunteers gather to campaign for him. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

PITTSBURGH — After a Tuesday rally for Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb at the Carpenters Training Center here, Preston Sparks stood outside, holding a clipboard as he filled out a form.

But he wasn’t signing up with the House candidate’s campaign. Instead he’s volunteering with local unions, who have launched a coordinated ground game to support Lamb ahead of the March 13 special election in the 18th District.

Biden Rallies the Troops for Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania
Former vice president hits campaign trail a week before House special election

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., seen here at a 2016 campaign event for Hillary Clinton in Scranton, Pa., returned to the Keystone State on Tuesday to rally support for Democratic House candidate Conor Lamb. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

MOON, Pa. — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. traveled to the Pittsburgh suburbs one week before the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District with a message aimed squarely at the middle class.

At separate events before a crowd of union workers in Pittsburgh and then a packed room of supporters here at Robert Morris University, Biden said Democrat Conor Lamb understands the people of the southwest Pennsylvania district. Invoking a military slogan, he said a Lamb victory would send a message across the country.

How Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Pushed to the Center
Of the 10 running in Trump states, four stand apart for siding with the president

Joe Manchin III voted with the president 71 president of the time last year when his wishes were clear in advance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you’re wearing a blue uniform but your game is in a stadium where most of the crowd usually roots for the reds, try accessorizing with as much purple as possible.

That bit of fashion advice is one cheeky way of describing the politically pragmatic behavior of most, but not all, of the 10 Democratic senators hoping to hold their seats this fall in states that went for President Donald J. Trump.

Rating Change: Special Election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Moves to Toss-Up
Democrat Conor Lamb is still standing despite continuous GOP attacks

Democrat Conor Lamb, left, and Republican Rick Saccone will face off March 13 in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th District. (Courtesy Conor Lamb/Rick Saccone/Facebook)

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

“While the Pennsylvania race isn’t getting much attention now, that should change next year, considering all of the 2017 special elections eventually became national stories,” my colleague Leah Askarinam wrote in the Dec. 15 issue of Inside Elections. “By the numbers, the 18th District special election shouldn’t be particularly competitive. But the 2017 slate of special elections demonstrated that every race could turn into a struggle for Republicans, even in favorable territory.”

Ratings Changes: 15 Races Shift Toward Democrats, 1 Toward Republicans
Democratic chances have improved beyond Pennsylvania

From left, Democrats Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Stephanie Murphy of Florida are looking more secure in their re-elections this fall, while, from right, Republicans Ted Budd and Mimi Walters may be more vulnerable. (Bill Clark/Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photos)

Less than eight months before Election Day, the midterm landscape is still taking shape. It’s still not clear whether Democrats will have a good night (and potentially fall short of a majority) or a historic night in the House that puts them well over the top. But mounting evidence nationally and at the district level points to a Democratic advantage in a growing number of seats.

Democratic prospects improved in a handful of seats in Pennsylvania, thanks to a new, court-ordered map. And the party’s successes in state and local elections over the last 14 months demonstrate a surge in Democratic voters, particularly in blue areas, that could be problematic for Republican candidates in the fall. GOP incumbents in districts Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 might be particularly susceptible to increased Democratic enthusiasm.

Texas Primaries: What to Watch in the First Contests of 2018
March 6 will see several competitive primary races in the Lone Star State

Gina Ortiz Jones is a Democratic candidate in Texas’ 23rd District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas. That includes congressional primaries.

The March 6 elections will be the first primary contests of 2018, and the initial tests of first-time candidates running for Congress — Democrats competing in newly targeted seats and Republicans vying to replace outgoing GOP lawmakers.

Manchin Gets Saltier at Pence: No One Is More Bipartisan Than Me
Vulnerable West Virginia senator ‘shocked’ at VP’s speech to Republican retreat in home state

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has tried to position himself as a Democratic ally of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 2:05 p.m. | Sen. Joe Manchin apparently did not vent enough on Wednesday when he responded to Mike Pence’s speech in West Virginia in which the vice president criticized the Mountain State Democrat for voting against the Republican tax code overhaul in December.

So he did what most politicians do now when they’re frustrated: let loose on Twitter.