Since Donald Trump became President in January, Democrats have had four shots at taking Republican-held congressional seats in special elections. They have not won any, including losing a pair of races this week in Georgia and South Carolina (Democrats won a fifth special election in a heavily Democratic district in California.).
In at least two of these districts, Democratic candidates made the race a referendum on Trump, and millions of dollars of outside money went toward reinforcing that message. So far, no Republican seat has been lost because of Trump or any other reason.
While Republicans prevailed in these four races, they did so by significantly smaller margins that in the previous three general elections. In all cases, the 2017 special election margins of victory were at least 10 points smaller than in November 2016.
On average, the Democratic candidate took 18 points off of the average Republican candidate’s margin of victory in these four districts. These are, of course, special elections, and their naturally volatile nature makes them generally unreliable predictors of future general elections. Nonetheless, an 18-point swing would be enough to flip numerous legislative and congressional districts in Texas and make dozens of others, including the statewide races, suddenly competitive.
A better gauge on 2018 may be the Virginia Assembly elections later this year. Republicans hold a 66-34 advantage in the lower chamber but just a 21-19 edge in the Senate, suggesting a number of districts for which any significant swing, let alone an 18-point one, would flip seats.
©2017 Texas Election Source LLC