Consider Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district. In 2012, the last contested race for Congress, 338,873 of its voters showed up, and just under two thirds of them—212,727—voted for Tim Murphy, the Republican candidate. In 2014, the last off-year election, Mr. Murphy ran unopposed, garnering all 168,076 of the voters who bothered to show up.
In 2016 Murphy again ran unopposed, but, because it was a presidential election year, 294,684 folks came to the polls, and they all voted for Murphy. Donald Trump, who did have some opponents in the presidential race, ran 20 points ahead of Clinton in the 18th district.
Shockingly, Tim Murphy, a staunch family values, right to life guy, asked his mistress to get an abortion. Who could have seen that one coming? Murphy resigned: hence the need for a special election.
Yesterday, 228,378, voters exercised their franchise in the special election—113,813 for Conor Lamb, the Democrat; 113,186 for Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate; and 1,379 for someone else.
This after Don the Con visited the district last Saturday, and urged voters to see the election as a referendum on him. Apparently, many of them did. Republican support decreased by 20 percentage points from 2016. And it was 14 points lower than in 2012. A district gerrymandered to a fare the well, to be reliably Republican—the Cook Political Report calls its overall tendency R + 11—went Democratic.
There are a number of reports that Republican political figures are searching their souls over the result.
This will prove to be a challenging endeavor.
Like asking Aardvark to search his yacht.