National Republicans not optimistic

A GOP operative in the race tells CBS News’ Nancy Cordes that “our numbers don’t look good” – specifically, overnight party data showed Lamb leading Saccone by 3 to 7 points. They’re not throwing in the towel entirely, but they’re very pessimistic.

Like other party operatives, this source is pinning the blame squarely on Saccone – not the party or the president. “He’s not a bad guy, he’s a good guy who worked hard…but he didn’t know how to run a race like this and was out of his league.”

Saccone has been a state lawmaker since 2010, while Lamb hasn’t run for office before.

Saccone, this operative notes, didn’t appear to be entirely comfortable at campaign events — including his appearances with President Trump — and “was hoping to win by going door to door, and you can’t do that anymore.” He also “didn’t successfully lay out his background,” even as Lamb “defined himself as a mini-republican or a moderate.” This operative believes many PA-18 voters were unaware, for example, of Saccone’s foreign policy background and the fact that he has authored nine books.

What about Mr. Trump’s waning popularity, even in red districts like this one? “It’s hard to extrapolate Trump stuff when it isn’t necessarily about that on the ground…a lot of this is about polices.” Operative said they’ll have a better sense of the Trump effect once they see the final numbers.

— CBS News’ Nancy Cordes