Special Elections Suggest Democrats’ Momentum Might Be Slowing

Democrats are hoping to have something to celebrate in November, like Reps. Charlie Rangel and Carolyn Maloney of New York did at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.Tom Williams/ZUMA

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The state House seat for District 175, a southern district at the Florida border, stayed red in a special election to replace a legislator who resigned to take a job with the Technical College System of Georgia. Republican John LaHood beat two fellow Republicans and a Democrat with 70 percent of the vote. The GOP victory follows two January 9 special elections in the state, in which state House and Senate seats remained in Republican hands.
The three Republican candidates, who captured 76 percent of all votes, fared better in this race than they did in 2016, when Trump received just under 60 percent of the vote in the three counties that participated in yesterday’s election. The open election format and low voter turnout—fewer than 10 percent of registered voters cast ballots, compared with more than 70 percent in the 2016 presidential election—may limit the usefulness of this race as a bellwether for things to come.

The coming week presents three more special elections for state legislature seats previously held by Republicans. On Saturday, Louisianans will vote to replace Republican Chris Broadwater, and next Tuesday, February 20, elections in Kentucky and Mississippi will replace two more state legislators who left office amid sexual assault allegations. These seats, located in squarely in deep red districts, are expected to stay under Republican control, though as with the Oklahoma race, Democrats will look for narrowing margins between the parties.
The following Tuesday, February 27, offers more promising opportunities for Democrats. GOP legislature posts in Connecticut and New Hampshire—two reliably blue states—will be up for grabs. Four seats in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives flipped from Republican to Democratic control in 2017.