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Pennsylvania's 18th District special election too close to call

Pennsylvania 18th House District special election too close to call between Republican Rick Saccone (left) and Democrat Conor Lamb (right). (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

The candidates competing for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District House seat are neck and neck, leaving the race too close to call Tuesday night.

With all precincts reporting, Politico shows Democrat Conor Lamb receiving 49.8 percent of the vote with 113,111 ballots cast for him, versus Republican Rick Saccone pulling in 49.6 percent of the vote with 112,532 votes cast in his favor — a difference of 579 votes.

In the 2016 presidential election, 58 percent of the district voted for President Donald Trump. Polling from last month showed Saccone with an edge in the race over Lamb, with a low turnout model showing Saccone would win 50 percent to 45 percent.

Over the weekend, President Trump traveled to Pennsylvania and campaigned for Saccone, declaring that "steel is back," citing the steel and aluminum tariffs the White House set into motion last week. The move was expected to play well in steel country.

As of Monday, the tides turned in the polling models, showing Saccone trailing Lamb by anywhere from 2 to 7 points.

Trump's daughter Ivanka, son Donald Trump Jr., White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Vice President Mike Pence also campaigned for Saccone. Even with a stable of Republican heavy-hitters campaigning for him, Saccone had trouble raising campaign funds himself. But Republicans outspent Democrats more than two to one in the race.

Outside spending poured into the district in spite of the fact that Pennsylvania's Supreme Court recently decided to redraw the state's congressional districts, with NPR reporting that "neither Lamb nor Saccone will reside in the redrawn district." It's likely that whoever is declared the winner will only serve a matter of months before redistricting occurs.

The seat became available when former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy resigned the post last year, which he had held since 2003. A prior member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, Murphy admitted to an extramarital affair, and text messages from his former mistress suggested he asked her to have an abortion during a reported "pregnancy scare."

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