A district that Donald Trump won by 27 points in November, Republicans held on to by 6 points in April. The unpopularity of Republican governors combined with the unpopularity of Trump shows that Democratic momentum is real, as the Kansas special election demonstrated.
As of publication time, the House special election in Kansas was called for Ron Estes over James Thompson 52%-46%. Republicans dumped millions of dollars of resources and even enlisted the help of Donald Trump and Mike Pence to keep the House seat in a solidly Republican district that hasn’t voted Democratic decades.
Even with all of the outside help that the right could muster, they only won by single digits. Donald Trump won the district by 27 points in the 2016 presidential election. Mike Pompeo, who is now Trump’s CIA Director, won reelection to the seat by 31 points. The district leans Republican by a 15 point margin.
All of this makes the performance of the Democratic candidate in this special election encouraging. Outrage against extremist Republican governors and the deeply unpopular president has given Democrats real momentum. There is no way that a Democrat should have been competitive in this district.
The fact that Democrats were competitive is a very encouraging sign that bodes well for the Georgia special House election for Trump HHS Secretary Tom Price’s old seat. The district is more favorable to Democrats than the fourth district in Kansas was. Democrats were not expecting to win in Kansas and putting additional Democratic resources in the race would have risked waking Republicans up, and turning the election into a blowout.
If the KS-04 is any indication, Republicans already have a big complacency problem among their voters.
If Democrats can be competitive in deep red districts, one can imagine that they will do very well in the three dozen or so competitive districts that will decide the House in 2018.
Republicans should not be happy with barely winning in Kansas. The margin should terrify them because it shows that the energy behind Democrats is very real and coming for them in 2018.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association