This week Donald Trump bragged about how his candidates were all winning, but a closer analysis by the Associated Press (AP) shows that Republicans should be very worried.
The new AP study shows Democratic voters being more enthusiastic than Republicans in almost a dozen federal special elections since President Donald Trump took office. Enthusiasm of voters is measured primarily by how many of each party turn up to vote, which has historically been a major problem for Democrats in elections when presidential candidates are not on the ballot.
This turnout problem for Democrats in off-year elections and special elections seems to have gone away thanks to Trump, and according to Republican analysts this is their #1 problem.
There have been very close special election losses for Democrats, and this is why Trump is crowing about all the GOP victories. But these close losses in places like Georgia, Arizona and Ohio can easily be seen as Democratic victories and very good omens for the future.
In all cases where Democrats have lost close special elections the seats were currently in Republican hands. They were in “red” districts where no Democrat is expected to win, let alone come so close.
In every case the 2018 special election victory for the Republican candidate was much narrower than the 2016 margin of victory.
For example, in Danny O’Connor’s district in Ohio the GOP candidate had won in 2016 by over 36%. In the special election Tuesday night — which is still too close to call — O’Connor trails the Republican by just 1500 votes out of 205,000 votes cast, which is a margin of less than 1%. For Republicans to lose over 35% of their victory margin in less than two years is remarkable.
One other factor in the Ohio election is that the national Republican Party spent nearly $5 million helping their candidate, while O’Connor spent barely one-fourth of that.
There are no more special elections before the fall midterms. The AP review of House special elections and the Alabama special Senate election showed Democratic candidates consistently receiving many more votes than they ever had before in those races during general elections.
The unprecedented high Democratic turnout has given them much optimism about taking back control of the House of Representatives in November, which they have not had since 2010.
The AP study compared the raw vote totals in the special elections to what Republicans and Democrats received in 2016. They calculated vote totals as a percentage of what could be expected in a presidential year when turnout is highest, with the actual turnout in the special election.
The results showed that the Democratic Party’s coalition is much more engaged and excited about the 2018 election than the Republicans.
In Ohio, for example, the GOP candidate got less than half of Trump’s total in the district in 2016 and just 40 percent of what the Republican congressional candidate had received in 2016.
O’Connor, on the other hand, got almost 90 percent of what the last Democratic candidate got in 2016, which is unheard of in special elections.
This same kind of result has been shown in other special elections where the turnout for Democrats has been almost as high as presidential election year turnouts and nearly twice what has been seen in past “off year” elections.
Altogether, Democrats got a higher proportion than Republicans of the party’s usual presidential vote in eight out of 11 special elections. They exceeded Republicans in 10 out 11 races when comparing the special election totals to the most recent House or Senate race.
If those enthusiasm gaps hold for several dozen more competitive seats in November, Democrats will have a great chance of winning the House majority and also see gains in statehouse races. They may even take back the Senate.
The AP said that this year’s special elections are similar to what Republicans saw in the 2010 midterms when Republicans took back control of the House and many state legislatures. If that is true, then we can certainly expect to see a Blue Wave in November.
Democratic pollster Zac McCrary had this to say about the results so far:
“The numbers show a Democratic energy in the electorate that Republicans don’t have, plus an advantage with independents that Democrats haven’t had in a decade. That’s when waves happen and you win districts you aren’t supposed to win.”
In essence the AP study has confirmed what many people already knew: Democrats are fired up, and many independents and Republicans are also fired up in 2018. They want to vote Trump’s enablers out of office, and to protect American democracy. The Blue Wave is coming.