Conor Lamb’s Victory Is Not a 20-Point Swing

I don’t want to throw cold water on Conor Lamb’s apparent victory tonight, but I do want to point out one little thing: when a congressional seat opens up and there’s no longer an incumbent, that can produce a 10-point swing all by itself. Back when Democrats still ran candidates in the Pennsylvania 18th district, Tim Murphy typically won with about 63 percent of the vote. This means that a non-incumbent Republican could probably expect about 55 percent of the vote—that is, a 10-point victory. A zero-point victory for Conor Lamb is, therefore, roughly a 10-point swing in favor of the Democrats.

Everyone should probably ignore the “20-point swing” nonsense that cable news has been regurgitating endlessly. This is based on Donald Trump’s winning margin in the presidential election, but that’s apples-to-oranges. It’s congressional contests that matter. Besides, a 10-point swing is still pretty good, especially since Democrats got outspent 4-to-1, so there’s no need to exaggerate things. Let’s all stay reality-based here.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend