WAYNESBURG, Pa. — Everyone in some way or another is going to get the results of the Pennsylvania House special election wrong.
Why? Because the story is not neat on a number of levels. First, it is complicated by optics and message: The young, charming Democratic candidate Conor Lamb is running like a Republican on matters from guns to getting rid of Nancy Pelosi. And sly as a fox, Lamb is not taking any firm stances on any other issues.
When your message is simply I am for new leadership and cleaning up Washington, and you look like you just walked out of an Orvis catalog, you are going to connect with voters on both sides of the aisle.
Second, Lamb never slams President Trump; why would he? Trump won this district by double digits. Lamb needs his voters to pull the lever for him, and so they need to trust that Lamb will be an independent warrior in Washington who is above party and politics.
Everyone who knows Washington knows that this never really happens. When you are a (junior) member of a club of 435 members divided in two, that campaign mantra of independence gets washed away by the force of partisanship.
Third, none of Lamb’s campaign signs say he is a Democrat. He is not part of the resistance, he does not call himself progressive, he doesn’t try to divide voters into different special interest groups or pit people against each other. If someone set out to do the opposite of everything Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did in 2016, he would run like Lamb is running.
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