Two Lessons Learned from Last Night’s Special Elections (09/13/17)

It was a pretty strong night for Democrats. (Also yes, there were special elections last night.)



You would be forgiven for not knowing there were a string of special elections last night regarding local government seats. While neither of these races gained any national attention, together they could tell us something interesting about the upcoming 2018 Midterms. Here are the two lessons learned from last night’s special elections.   



Lesson #1: The evidence of a strong Democratic performance in the 2018 Midterms keeps building.


Currently the Republican Party not only controls most state government legislatures across the US – they currently have a majority in 68 out of the 99 state legislative chambers – but also control both the Congress and the presidency at the federal level. Considering multiple surveys have shown that Americans are getting increasingly frustrated with government, conventional wisdom would tell you that the GOP are going to have some major problems in the next election cycle. Yesterday’s special elections looks to only be strengthening that argument.


Generally speaking, local elections tend to be a strong indicator in how the general population feels about both Democrats and Republicans at that given time. Considering candidates have little-to-no name recognition when it comes to local races, voters have been known to vote by party affiliation. If you extend that logic to last night’s special elections, then it’s safe to say that the Democrats had a pretty solid night!


Out of the 35 local races, Democrats were able to flip 6 seats from the Republicans and hold all of the seats they already had at the beginning of the night. While the 2018 Midterms are still over a year away, nights like last night should probably worry the GOP. All the elements are in place for a major push by the Democrats in next year’s Midterms: a historically unpopular Republican president, an unpopular GOP-controlled Congress, a divided Republican Party, more moderate Republicans looking to retire in 2018, ect. Now you can add last night’s special elections results to that long list.



Lesson #2: A Donald Trump presidency is starting to hurt Republicans.


Ever since the 2016 presidential contest, the media in general has been very hesitant in stating that a Donald Trump presidency has hurt the Republicans in electoral contests. While much of this stems from the scant number of elections that have taken place since President Trump had entered office; yet, it would be disingenuous not to mention that most journalists also had Donald Trump losing the 2016 general election. So when you see headlines like this after yesterday’s special election results, the media’s hesitation over President Trump being a factor in other election outcomes suddenly makes more sense.


Yet with that said, after yesterday’s string of special elections, it’s hard to deny that the Trump presidency isn’t effecting Republican races, even at the local level. The Democrats ended up having major wins in both New Hampshire (State House – Belknap 9) and Oklahoma (State House 046), districts that were under Republican control. Yet the bigger story here is the landslides that the Democrats were able to win by! In both New Hampshire and Oklahoma, the democratic challengers were able to win by 21 points and 11 points respectively. In traditional GOP strongholds, that is no small feat! Also if you consider that those same districts in New Hampshire and Oklahoma had voted for Donald Trump, with double digit margins, suddenly the “Trump Being a Non-Factor in Congressional Races” Theory doesn’t hold-up as well.


For a while now, President Trump’s historically low approval ratings have been waived aside by Congressional GOP as just white noise in the political spectrum. But after last night’s special election results, a Trump presidency to GOP pollsters (and the media) is looking harder to ignore.



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