Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Monday night, taking his pitch to Pennsylvania, a state he narrowly won in 2016. The president reminded local voters that there was a congressional special election in the state’s 12th congressional district the next day, which Trump described as “a little bit of a referendum” on him.
This wasn’t even close to being true: the Republican candidate in this race was so heavily favored to win in a landslide that neither party gave the contest much thought. By characterizing the race as “a little bit of a referendum” on him, Trump was obviously trying to manufacture a political victory for himself.
Yesterday at the White House, the president took this a little further.
“Even last night, we had a great election. I went there on Monday. We had an election for Fred Keller, who’s a 50-50 shot and he won in a landslide. We went and we did a rally. Hardly mentioned today.
“And yet if he lost, it would have been the biggest story in the country, even bigger than this witch hunt stuff that you guys keep writing about.”
For now, let’s put aside how pitiful it was to see an American president whine like this, once again playing the role of a victim whom we should all feel sorry for. Instead, let’s consider Trump’s claims on the merits.
To describe Rep.-elect Fred Keller’s odds of success as “50-50” is bonkers. This is a district that Trump carried in 2016 by 36 points. Looking at partisan-voter-index ratings, it’s no exaggeration to say Pennsylvania’s 12th is friendlier to Republicans than most of the congressional districts in Alabama.
And yet, there was Trump, suggesting that it was his unique brand of political magic that somehow tipped the scales in the GOP nominee’s favor – a minor miracle that the political world fails to acknowledge because no one appreciates how awesome his awesomeness is.
Stepping back, what does it say about the president’s troubles that he’s so desperate for a political victory that he feels the need to invent one?