Conor Lamb’s Victory Is Not a 20-Point Swing

I don’t want to throw cold water on Conor Lamb’s apparent victory tonight, but I do want to point out one little thing: when a congressional seat opens up and there’s no longer an incumbent, that can produce a 10-point swing all by itself. Back when Democrats still ran candidates in the Pennsylvania 18th district, Tim Murphy typically won with about 63 percent of the vote. This means that a non-incumbent Republican could probably expect about 55 percent of the vote—that is, a 10-point victory. A zero-point victory for Conor Lamb is, therefore, roughly a 10-point swing in favor of the Democrats.

Everyone should probably ignore the “20-point swing” nonsense that cable news has been regurgitating endlessly. This is based on Donald Trump’s winning margin in the presidential election, but that’s apples-to-oranges. It’s congressional contests that matter. Besides, a 10-point swing is still pretty good, especially since Democrats got outspent 4-to-1, so there’s no need to exaggerate things. Let’s all stay reality-based here.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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