President Donald Trump and his party are faced with a tough challenge in Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania.
Although Trump won Pennsylvania with a lead of 20 points in 2016, a loss on these special elections is quite possible. If this happens it will be a major blow for the President who is under a lot of scrutiny due to his low approval ratings, which are damaging the Republican party.
For Trump, “this would be bad news if the Republican wins a close race, and it will be terrible news if the Democrat wins,” said Democratic strategist Robert Shrum.
“The closeness of the race underlines the conventional wisdom, which is correct: that this is a tough environment for Republicans — and especially when the president is unpopular, that gives us significant headwinds,” GOP strategist Dan Judy said.
According to data from Advertising Analytics, out of the $12 million that is spent on TV and radio advertising, the Republicans outspent Democrats by $7.3 million to $4.4 million.
Meanwhile, several polls indicate the race could swing to either party. The Hill reported that a Gravis poll last week gave Republican candidate Rick Saccone a three-point lead in the contest, while an Emerson poll put Democrat Conor Lamb up by the same margin. This led to Trump traveling to Pennsylvania on Saturday where he held a campaign rally outside of Pittsburgh trying to give Saccone a boost.
“I came tonight because this guy is special,” Trump told the crowd. The President also branded the Democrat “Lamb the Sham,” alleging that he was “trying to act like a Republican.”
However, Trump’s endorsement might backfire, meaning it might spark both sides with the same intensity.
“Trump’s visit is a double-edged sword in the district because it will fire both sides up equally,” said Mark Nevins, a Philadelphia-based Democratic strategist.
The President already has an unsuccessful special election behind him. Namely, Democrat Doug Jones won a major victory in the Senate race in Alabama, despite Trump endorsing Republican Roy Moore.