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Here’s where we are in the Pennsylvania 18th district special election: the Democrat, Conor Lamb, is ahead by about 1,000 votes with nearly all votes counted. However, there are still about 3,000 absentee ballots left to be counted in three red counties, and the Republican, Rick Saccone, is likely to win them by about 500 votes or so. So the betting money says that “Landslide Lamb” wins a 500-vote squeaker once all the ballots are counted.

But that’s a winning margin of 500 votes out of 220,000, or 0.2 percent. I assume that means we’re in for a recount, and possibly a lengthy hand recount depending on how hard Republicans decide to fight.

Either way, this is a huge turnaround for Democrats in a district they haven’t contested for years. And it’s a huge red siren for Republicans, who have seen their big lead in this district vanish. If Democrats do even half this well in November, it’s a death knell for Republicans.

But even though the big picture will stay the same no matter how the last few votes go, it still matters who wins. In terms of emotional energy, the winning party gets a huge boost and some real momentum going into the rest of the year.

1:30 AM EDT UPDATE: It’s still looking like Lamb will end up about 500 votes ahead when all the votes are counted on Wednesday. If that holds up, all that’s left is whether Saccone pushes for a recount.

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