Conor Lamb, a Democrat, appears to have pulled off a shocking upset in a Pennsylvania congressional election last night.
It will be a remarkable win if Lamb holds on. Donald Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012 both won this district, in the Pittsburgh area, by almost 20 percentage points. Last night’s result is a sign that, while Trump may be holding onto his base, most voters are unhappy with his presidency. Republicans are looking at a very difficult midterm election.
One other point: There’s an ongoing debate, which I’ve covered before, about whether Democrats should focus this year on turning out their base or persuading swing voters. Lamb’s probable win helps answer the question: Both.
Democrats appear to have turned out at a much higher rate than Republicans last night, as G. Elliott Morris notes (with handy charts). But Lamb — a populist who is moderate on cultural issues — also clearly won over a bunch of Trump voters, given the district’s conservatism.
The 2018 midterm elections are a vital chance to check Trump’s power. They are, as David Remnick wrote this week, a “stress test of liberal democracy.” Given their importance, Democrats shouldn’t get caught up in either-or debates about turnout and persuasion.
Just think about how badly Rex Tillerson damaged his reputation over the last 18 months. He went from being the longtime chief executive of one of the world’s biggest companies to suffering Trump’s repeated public humiliations. They culminated in yesterday’s firing by tweet.
Elsewhere: In the end, the leader Tillerson failed to understand was not any foreign head of state but his own boss, argues Politico’s Susan Glasser.
Many liberals are celebrating Tillerson’s firing as the end of the tenure of the nation’s worst secretary of state. But as The New Republic’s Jeet Heer and The Times’s editorial board each write, Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, could make Tillerson’s sins look small by comparison. In The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins looked at Gina Haspel, Trump’s new choice to run the C.I.A., and her background overseeing illegal torture.