With all the votes (apparently—you never know) counted in Pennsylvania, Conor Lamb appears to have squeaked out a 579-vote win in the special election for 18th District U.S. House seat. Lamb ran essentially as a Republican in sheep’s clothing—pro-life, against gun control, etc.—though of course if his win survives a recount he will become a reliable vote for Nancy Pelosi, except perhaps for Speaker in November if Democrats take the House. But that won’t matter: Nancy will allow him a free No vote.
There’s going to be a lot of analysis about this special election, which will say either that the Lamb win in a district that went for Trump in 2016 by 20 points shows that Trump is doomed—doomed I say!—or that Democrats can only win in deplorable country through deception, by running as de facto Republicans as Lamb did, and many Democrats back in 2006. (Most of them didn’t survive 2010 and 2014.)
Both lines of analysis are too short sighted. I view the November mid-term as a near no-lose election for Republicans. In fact, I suspect that smart Democrats hope they don’t take either the House or the Senate.
Prediction: if Democrats take the House, it virtually assures Trump’s re-election in 2020. The logic is simple. The Democratic House either will, or won’t, vote to impeach Trump. Trump will never be convicted in the Senate, unless Mueller actually turns up something, which seems unlikely right now. The public won’t like this any better than they did with Clinton in 1999. But if Democrats don’t impeach Trump, the left grassroots (and Tom Steyer) will go out of their mind, and the 2020 nominee will likely be someone crazy—McGovern 2.0.
On the other hand, if Republicans keep both houses of Congress, they get to make the law. That’s a nice thing to do. It might make Trump’s road to re-election slightly harder, but the blow to Democrats is likely to deepen their madness, and perhaps embolden Congress. Sure—the GOP Congress has many failures to its name the last few years, but it may have turned a corner with tax reform. Having seen how well that is turning out both substantively and politically, perhaps they will be emboldened to do more of the same. As my old mentor M. Stanton Evans used to say, any country that can land a man on the moon can abolish the income tax. I’ve never felt so optimistic about a mid-term election.