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How did Dems Jason Altmire and Mark Critz -- who both won reelection by a slim 1.6 points -- prevail against the GOP tidal wave this year? In part it was by running hard against Dem leaders Obama and Pelosi, and burnishing other conservative bona fides.

Here's Louis Jacobson at PoliticsPa:

“I hate to think that Altmire benefited from his disloyalty to the president, but unfortunately that plays well in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Washington County commissioner J. Bracken Burns, a Democrat.

Both Altmire and Critz were able to burnish their conservative credentials in a Republican year by touting their endorsements by the National Rifle Association. In addition, the National Right to Life Committee PAC refrained from officially supporting either Rothfus or Burns – even though the anti-abortion group endorsed the Republican candidate in Pennsylvania in six other House races as well as the Senate race and won every single one of those contests.

The second overarching factor was that both Altmire and Critz faced relatively weak challengers.

Rothfus came from behind to defeat former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in the GOP primary, but a shortage of cash made it hard for him to increase his public profile. “Had Rothfus had another $100,000, he would have won,” said Pittsburgh-based GOP consultant Bill Green.

Similarly, if former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann or state Rep. Mike Turzai, the incoming House Majority Leader, had run against Altmire instead of Rothfus, the contest would have “looked like the Dahlkemper race,” in which the Democratic incumbent lost by double digits, said Ray Zaborney, a Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant.

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