Pennsylvania special election comes down to the wire in closely watched race

Pennsylvania special election

PITTSBURGH -- Polls close at 8 p.m. ET in a closely-watched special election for a House seat in Pennsylvania. It's usually a safe Republican seat, but the race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone has been neck-and-neck.

On Election Day, Saccone was on defense after describing local Democrats like this: "I'll tell you, many of them have a hatred for our country. And I'll tell you some more, my wife and I saw it again today, they have a hatred for God. It's amazing."

It may have been a last-ditch attempt to fire up conservatives. Polls show him trailing by six points in a traditionally Republican district.

Saccone said he was referring to "some of the vile comments" he's received on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

Democrat in Pennsylvania special election closing gap, poll shows

Saccone has been outraised by Lamb by a factor of 3 to 1, and Democrats hope it's a sign of things to come in November's midterm elections.

"I think it says a lot about Democratic enthusiasm around here," Lamb said. "People are really excited for this race."

President Trump sent his son in to help Saccone on Monday, and has made two visits himself.

"I hate to put this pressure on you, Rick. They're all watching because I won this district like by 22 points," Mr. Trump said at a rally Saturday in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.

But retired pharmacy technician Nina Burkett said Mr. Trump is the reason Saccone is in trouble. 

"Did you hear the news this morning? [Mr. Trump] fired somebody else!" Burkett said. "So I'm like, you know what, I think everybody is tired of that. They want a president that acts more presidential."

National Republican groups have been so worried about the optics of the loss here that they sank $10 million into this race and the president even alerted trade policy -- imposing new steel tariffs in time to excite voters here in the middle of steel country.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.