Conor Lamb's victory in the special congressional election in Pennsylvania was not so much a win for the Democrats over Republicans as it was for centrism over the extremes of left or right, top Democratic pollster Mark Penn said on Sunday.
"After so much talk that the party was moving to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders [the election] really reaffirms the power of a centrist Democrat," Penn told John Catsimatidis on his "The Cats Roundtable" radio show on AM 970 in New York.
"Conor Lamb really took a lot of centrist positions. He backed a lot of what President Trump was saying. And he came out explicitly against Nancy Pelosi."
Penn said that "whoever owns the center wins. And whoever really goes too far to the right or too far to the left invariably, eventually loses," emphasizing that "I don't think that lesson will be learned from one election. But if there's any message, we should never forget this is a centrist country."
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who was once also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, agreed that progressives in the party should learn that their extreme platform does not win elections but stressed to Catsimatidis that the vote in Pennsylvania was part of a trend.
"This was the 19th special election this year for Congress or state senate or state representative, and in all but one… the Democrats increased their vote total from 2016 dramatically – by as many as 20 to 25 points in some districts," Rendell said on "The Cats Roundtable." "And remember, Donald Trump carried this district by 20 points and Connor Lamb won it by about half a percent. That's a 20-plus-point swing."
Rendell predicted that "If nothing dramatic happens in the next six months to upset that trend, the Democrats have an excellent chance to take back both the Senate and the House."
However, he cautioned that "our progressive wing has got to understand that the country is made up of many different districts. And each district in each state has different values and different traditions. We've got to run candidates who fit the values of that district in that state. And that may mean that we're going to run some candidates who aren't as progressive as we'd like them to be."
He said that Lamb was a prime example of that, because "He had the same values as most western Pennsylvanians who live in that district."
Rendell emphasized that he tells his progressive friends that "The vote you have to be concerned about is the one vote [moderate Democratic Sen.] Joe Manchin will take to elect Chuck Schumer majority leader." If we get back the Senate and the House … we will control the legislative agenda.
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