Trump Turned a Minor Race Into a Referendum on Himself

First Read: “Despite the millions spent on the race, the high-profile visits and all the national attention, there’s a good case to make that the outcome of Tuesday’s special congressional election in Pennsylvania is highly overrated.”

“But if there’s reason to pay attention to the outcome on Tuesday, it’s this: Trump has put his office’s prestige on the line. In addition to the president holding a rally with Saccone on Saturday, the Washington Post suggested last week that Trump’s move on tariffs is aimed at the voters in PA-18.”

“So the race — despite the new map and already-evident political winds – matters because it matters to President Trump. A win, therefore, would allow Trump to crow that the GOP can still win in Trump Country. But a loss would be devastating for him: After all the money, the campaigning and the tariff timing, to have a Republican lose in a district Trump carried by 20 points would suggest there’s not more the president can do to help GOP candidates, even in Trump Country.”

“In sum, Tuesday’s PA-18 is a perfect microcosm of much of the Trump Era: So much attention and such high stakes on something that didn’t have to be this big – and in large part because Trump made it so.”

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