UPDATE at bottom.
Granted, it’s still not yet 9 PM on the West coast. But the race is so incredibly close, it’s clear that there won’t be a certified result to announce before any of us goes to bed tonight.
The latest update on how things stand is as follows: with 99% of precincts reporting, Democrat Conor Lamb is ahead by 847 votes. The totals:
Conor Lamb (D): 111,875 (49.9%)
Rick Saccone (R): 111,028 (49.5%)
Drew Miller (L): 1,351 (0.6%)
(Miller is the Libertarian.)
They have started counting the absentee ballots, as of about 30 minutes ago. According to local news reporting on Twitter, the district vote-counters say that will take about three hours. The totals above reportedly reflect at least 1,000 of the absentee ballots already counted.
The bottom line is that the extreme narrowness of Lamb’s likely victory will probably trigger an automatic recount. The results we’re seeing tonight are expected, of course, but there’s a strong prospect of spending several days, at a minimum, with the outcome uncertain.
Fox News reporters remind us that the outlines of the district go away next week anyway. Moreover, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s mandate for re-gerrymandering the gerrymander of congressional districts is being challenged. A lot is up in the air right now, Pennsylvania-wise.
In theory, Saccone and Lamb could both end up winning seats under the new district map — if the map (the one mandated by the state court) survives the challenge in federal court.
Of course, the standard patter about this special election, inflicted on Pennsylvanians when Republican Tim Murphy resigned over his handling of an extra-marital girlfriend’s pregnancy, is that the Democrats have pulled off a great victory by eliminating the big margin Trump won the district by in 2016.
But mainly, the Democrats are running Conor Lamb, a youthful former Marine, Assistant U.S. District Attorney, and social conservative (a vocal pro-life politician and understood by voters to be solid on Second Amendment rights). In other words, the Democrats aren’t running one of today’s standard-issue Democrats.
Republican Rick Saccone isn’t a bad guy, but next to Lamb he looks old and tired, and he doesn’t give off the reliably anti-swamp vibe needed to really benefit from Trump’s “MAGA” coattails.
Goofy, and very 2018. Updates when we get them.
*UPDATE*: As of 2 AM 14 March, with 100% of precincts reporting, Conor Lamb is up by a total of 579 votes. See totals from Pennsylvania Secretary of State in the screen cap below. A margin so razor-thin that if it stands, requesting a recount seems like a no-brainer. (The percentage threshold is 0.5%. As of now, it’s at 0.26%. Apparently, since it’s a district race and not a statewide race, a recount isn’t automatic, but has to be requested. Presumably, the Republicans would pay for it if Saccone goes that route. With the weird redistricting situation, it’s an interesting question whether it’s worth it, since this all gets a complete redo, with different district boundaries, for the general election in November.)
Lamb has declared victory, but Saccone hasn’t conceded. The last thing from his campaign was nearly three hours ago, with no updates that I can find since then
Rick Saccone just took the stage with 99 percent of precincts reporting and Lamb leading by just 847 votes. Says they’re going to keep fighting “until the end.” No concession. #PA18 pic.twitter.com/BPNDKVO4PJ
— Aaron Franco (@AFrancoTX) March 14, 2018