Dem Leads As PA 18 Election Heads Into Second Day

The nail-biter special election was too close to call.

The special election to fill the seat of Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican congressman who resigned amid a sex scandal, is not over yet. The normally deep red district, which Donald Trump won by more than 20 points, was too close to call last night with the two candidates separated by only a few hundred votes.

Democrat Conor Lamb led for most of the night and continues to hold a slight lead in spite of a late surge by Republican Rick Saccone. The current vote tally this morning shows Lamb with 113,720 and Saccone with 113,079 per CNN. The margin between the two is only 0.2 percent of the vote.

It is likely that Lamb will be declared the winner today unless absentee and provisional ballots, which are still being counted, lean heavily Republican. Pennsylvania election law does not provide for automatic recounts in congressional races, but NPR notes that voters can petition for a recount. Given the close nature of the race, this seems likely.

Republican officials cited problems with Saccone's campaign as a prime reason for the close race, but also speculated that President Trump's campaign rally last weekend for the GOP candidate may have helped drive up Democrat turnout. Even if Saccone is eventually declared the winner, the close race in a reliably Republican district must be viewed as a red flag for the GOP as the November midterms approach.

Lamb claimed victory Tuesday night based on the available results. "It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it," he told supporters in a victory speech. "You did it."