Pennsylvania holds the key to the 2018 midterms for Democrats — and could determine which party will control the House of Representatives come January 2019.
The good news started for Democrats in this month's special election for Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district: Conor Lamb beat Republican Rick Saccone in a district that Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016 and that Republicans had held for 15 years. It kept flowing this week, with a prominent House Republican, Ryan Costello, announcing that he will retire rather than defend his seat and then news that Democrats will likely avoid a contentious primary in another race.
With the filing deadline now past, several races are shaping up to be very favorable to Democrats this November in Pennsylvania.
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A landmark gerrymandering lawsuit had already cracked the door open for Democrats in the Keystone State: The state supreme court decided recently that Pennsylvania's House districts needed to be redrawn because Republicans had unfairly tilted them too far to their advantage and the resulting redistricting gave Democrats a leg up.
Add in the enthusiasm among Democratic voters and the evidence that even voters in Trump country have soured on the Republicans and Pennsylvania provides the clearest path for Democrats to make major gains in their bid to win 20-odd seats and take control of the House.
"It's a huge prime opportunity for Democrats. If it's a really incredible year for them, you could swing six seats potentially," Nick Field, who writes about state politics for WHYY in Philadelphia and PennLive, told me recently. "If they swing six seats in Pennsylvania, you're one-quarter of the way there in one state. I think it's going to be a huge part of the Democrats' midterm plan."