This Week in Statehouse Action: Fall In District Lines edition

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

It’s autumn! Leaves turning! Harvests! Pumpkin flavored everything! Elections!

…wait there are always elections.

In fact, there were four just this past Tuesday.

  • Democrats won three of this week’s special elections, and two of those wins were red-to-blue flips, bringing the total number of Democratic pickups this cycle to eight. Meanwhile, Republicans have yet to flip a single seat in a contested election.

    Campaign Action

Eight is great!

So, yeah, it’s been a great cycle for Democrats.

How great? Glad you asked!

  • Out of all the contested congressional and state legislative special elections held to date, Democrats have over-performed the 2016 Hillary Clinton margin by more than 10 points in 25 of them. Republicans, on the other hand have over-performed by more than 10 points in just four—but one of those was actually a Democratic flip! On average, Democrats are doing about 13 points better than Clinton. 

Courtesy of one of my brilliant colleagues, here’s a fun graph demonstrating these numbers below.


Oooooooh look at all that blue. Pretty.

So over-performing is great, but winning is better.

  • Democrats have now won seats from the GOP eight times in just 27 chances—almost 30 percent of all contested special elections in Republican-held seats in the Trump era.
    • What’s more, the playing field has been very hostile to Democrats: Trump won these 27 districts by an average of 19 points. 

But think for sec what this could mean for 2018 U.S. House elections. If Democrats flip 30 percent of the House seats currently held by Republicans, that adds 72 new members to the Democratic caucus in the next Congress.

That’s… a lot. 

  • The two Democratic pickups on Tuesday night were BFDs in their own right, especially the Florida seat. Not to give short shrift to the Granite State win; Kari Lerner’s victory in a deep and historically Republican New Hampshire House district that backed Donald Trump by a 59-36 margin in 2016 and voted 60-39 for Mitt Romney in 2012 was no mean feat. Lerner won this seat by 50-48, improving on Clinton’s performance here last fall by 25 points.

But Annette Taddeo’s victory in Florida Senate District 40 was remarkable for a number of reasons. Democrats’ past performance in the seat was not one of them, however; this district gave Clinton almost 58 percent of the vote in 2016.

  • But the things that made this win so remarkable for the Democrat are that she won despite the fact that:

Okay, that’s enough about Tuesday.