Democrats Just Won a Special Election That Should Terrify Republicans

A 31-point swing.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Republicans in Washington have gotten some encouraging news in recent weeks. The generic-ballot polling average, which for months had shown Democrats with a double-digit edge in November’s congressional elections, narrowed to just 5 percentage points last week. But on the local level, the early indicators suddenly look much, much worse for the GOP. On Tuesday, Missouri held special elections in four deep-red state house districts that President Donald Trump carried by huge margins in 2016. Democrats picked up one seat, House District 97, after a 31-point swing. Another GOP candidate squeaked by with 53 percent of the vote in a district Trump carried by a whopping 59-point margin in 2016. In the other two districts, Democrats narrowed their final margins by 29 and 38 percentage points, respectively.

Missouri Republicans are experiencing a particularly rough moment right now because the state’s GOP governor, Eric Greitens, is under investigation for allegedly blackmailing a woman he had an affair with—not the kind of thing that gets the grassroots fired up. (Greitens has acknowledged the affair but denies the blackmail claims.) But what happened in Missouri can’t be placed entirely on the governor. According to Daily Kos Elections, there have now been eight special elections for state legislature seats in 2018. In every one of those elections, Democrats have improved by double digits compared to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance in the districts, flipping two seats in the process. The average Democratic improvement for 2018 special elections has been 27 points. Over the course of 70 special elections in 2017, the average margin of improvement was 10 points.

It’s certainly possible that the national numbers will continue to improve for Republicans—maybe the military parade will do the trick. But special elections for local offices are the ultimate enthusiasm test. And right now, only one party’s activists are really showing up.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.