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The stakes are high in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election as both Democrats and Republicans are closely watching the results for indications of how the 2018 midterm elections may play out and for signs of who might control the House of Representatives after November.
If Democrat Conor Lamb wins, his party will claim their candidates can run and win anywhere in the country – even ruby red districts won by Donald Trump with double digits — which will boost their odds in regaining the House.
Jeff Swensen/Getty ImagesCitizens casting their votes in a special election between Democratic candidate Conor Lamb and Republican candidate Rick Saccone March 13, 2018 at the Blaine Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Elizabeth, Pa.
If GOP candidate Rick Saccone wins, Republicans will argue that their chances of keeping the House remain solid.
Polls close at 8 p.m. ET. Check back to ABCNews.com for results.
5 things to watch in the Pennsylvania special election
NRA drops last-minute money for GOP candidate
3:51 P.M. – Candidates project aura of optimism
ABC’s News “18 for 18” reporter Adam Kelsey, on the ground in the 18th Congressional District, reports that both campaigns have attempted to project an aura of optimism as voters head to the polls.
Democrat Conor Lamb’s campaign aides and volunteers are downright bubbly when you speak to them, clearly aware that their candidate has made major strides in this deep-red district, win or lose.
On the other side, GOP candidate Rick Saccone told ABC News on Monday that he was feeling confident.
As for voters?
Kelsey notes that are the Hillary Clinton supporters who have been horrified by the past year and are downright giddy at the chance to set off a blue wave while there are President Donald Trump supporters trying to “save the country.”
Then there are the union members who want to save their jobs and think Lamb is the candidate who will look out for them because Saccone has defended “right to work” laws.
And there are union members who want to save their jobs and know that Saccone will back Trump’s tariffs (although Lamb supports them too) and the “America first” agenda to do it.
3:38 P.M. – Analysis: Democrat needs mathematical trifecta to win
An analysis by ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks found that Democrat Conor Lamb needs to pull off an electorate trifecta to win. The math would have to include dramatically boosting Democrat turnout over what it normally would be in a midterm or special election, convincing moderate or swing voters to go blue and hoping for depressed Republican turnout. For more, read here.
6:00 A.M. – The Note: What’s at stake in Pennsylvania’s special election
ABC News’ political team breaks down what’s at stake in the highly watched special election. Rick Klein writes:
It will be up to a deep-red House district today to provide a blueprint – or deliver yet more Democratic blues.
But before anyone heralds a herd of Conor Lambs, where else could a Democrat come close to a seat in Congress while opposing new gun laws, stating his belief that “life begins at conception,” supporting fracking and President Donald Trump’s new tariffs, and vowing never to support Nancy Pelosi in a bid for House Speaker?
Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesConor Lamb, Democratic congressional candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th district, and his grandmother Barbara Lamb exit the polling station after she voted at Our Lady of Victory Church, March 13, 2018 in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Democrats are benefiting from some fortuitous casting with the 33-year-old, telegenic Marine reservist who is running in the special election in southwestern Pennsylvania. (Given state Democratic rules around this special, Lamb was nominated without having to navigate a primary.)
Tens of millions are being spent by both sides for a nine-month rental of a congressional district that won’t even exist next year. It’s a test run for messaging around the GOP tax plan and Pelosi-themed attacks, plus a big test of Trump’s seemingly-clipped coattails.
A Democratic win would be remarkable in district Trump carried by nearly 20 points. But it would also be remarkable for a Democrat to win while sounding and acting so unlike the national Democratic lineup he hopes to join. Read more here.