2019 special elections haven't been as good for Democrats

Posted Wednesday, 11 September 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The supposed smart take from the special election in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District is that Republican Dan Bishop underperformed compared to President Donald Trump's 2016 performance in the district. Bishop won by 2 points while Trump won by 12 points, which is supposed to indicate that the national political environment still leans Democratic. And while I am a fan of judging special election results by seeing how closely they match the presidential baseline in the district, I'm also a fan of not looking too closely at any one special election. Any one special election result can be a fluke because of district specific factors. I'd rather examine multiple specials. When we do that, we see the results of the special elections that have taken place after the 2018 midterms -- when Democrats took back the House -- aren't anywhere near as good for Democrats as those that occurred in the time period after Trump's election in 2016 and the midterms. Last night, for example, there was another less spoken about special election in North Carolina's 3rd congressional district. Republican Greg Murphy won by 24 points. That was a district in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 24 points too. In other words, there was no Democratic overperformance (or Republican underperformance) in that race versus the 2016 baseline. Earlier this year, there was a special election in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District. This special election result looked a lot like what happened in North Carolina's 3rd District and not its 9th. Republican Fred Keller's 36-point win matched well with Trump's 36-point win in the district. When you average across the three congressional special elections this year, you see the Democrats are outperforming their 2016 presidential baseline by less than 5 points. In the 11 special congressional special elections between the start of Trump's presidency in 2017 and the 2018 midterms, they were outperforming their baseline by 12 points. It would be easy to say that no one cared about North Carolina's 3rd or Pennsylvania's 12th District special election. These races were never thought of as competitive, and the turnout was low. However, I'd pushed back heavily against that concept. There were a number of special elections last cycle (e.g. Kansas's 4th and South Carolina's 5th) which weren't supposed to be competitive and were low turnout affairs. In both cases, Democrats outperformed the 2016 presidential baseline by double-digits. The trend in the state legislative special elections look like the trend in the congressional special elections, too. Democrats are outperforming their baseline on the state legislative level as they are in congressional specials, but not anywhere to the degree that they were during the 2017 to 2018 period. Now, you could argue that we still have a small sample size of only three congressional special elections this year. That's true, and it's a good point. While state legislative elections are an additive point, I'd really like to see more congressional special elections if we're going to make anything close to a definitive statement about what they're telling us. Furthermore, you could point out that special elections in the lead up to presidential elections aren't as predictive of those as special elections are in the lead up to a midterm. As I noted on Monday, the congressional special elections in 2015 and 2016 weren't predictive at all of what happened in 2016's presidential election. Indeed, other indicators do not suggests Republicans aren't in any better position than they were last year. Trump is still quite unpopular. He trails his potential Democratic opponents in hypothetical matchups. Additionally, more Americans are worried about the future of the economy than previously. Overall, Trump's re-election hopes are still great, and the special elections this year haven't been bad news for Democrats. I'm just not sure I'd really use special elections to argue Trump is in danger, when looking at this year's special elections in their totality.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)J. Crew has turned to an executive from another struggling brand, Victoria's Secret, to lead its turnaround. Jan Singer will become J. Crew's new CEO, the company said Tuesday.Singer became Victoria's Secret chief executive in...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Starbucks has closed more than half of its roughly 4,300 Chinese stores, as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread in the country. The company said Tuesday it is continuing to "monitor and modify the operating hours of all of...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Miami (CNN)This doctor has one of the most important jobs in Super Bowl LIV, but he's not part of the team's medical staff.Instead, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who earned his doctor of medicine degree from McGill University in Canada in 2018, plays right...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Hundreds of people were evacuated from high-rise buildings near downtown Miami after a powerful earthquake in the Caribbean Sea on Tuesday. Several buildings in Miami were shaking Tuesday but no injuries or structural damage has been reported, Miami ...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A threat that is even more furious than you've seen in eight other films is coming. What, exactly, is that? Michelle Rodriguez doesn't give specifics in the new teaser trailer for "Fast & Furious 9," but it sounds ominous. More details, perhaps, ...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A growing number of GOP senators are now acknowledging that President Donald Trump may have leveraged US military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an announcement of investigations that could help him politically -- but they contend that even that...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)It appears iPhone sales really are on the mend. Apple (AAPL) posted what it calls an "all-time record" earnings for the three months ending December — with quarterly revenue of $91.8 billion, up 9% from the same period last year...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Muscatine, Iowa (CNN)Joe Biden had a question for the crowd gathered to see him in Muscatine, Iowa, on Tuesday: "Did anyone see what your senator, Joni Ernst, did yesterday?"The former vice president was referring to comments made by Ernst, who told...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Almost all the major players on Capitol Hill have lamented that these are dangerous times in Washington. But if you want to know why -- it depends who you ask.President Donald Trump's lawyers gave their reasons on Tuesday, as they wrapped ...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's attorney Alan Dershowitz on Tuesday shot back at Sen. Elizabeth Warren after the Massachusetts Democrat assailed his presentation in Trump's Senate impeachment trial as hard to follow and tweeted that his argument ...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Ben Smith, the former political blogger who built BuzzFeed News into a digital powerhouse, announced Tuesday that he is leaving the website and joining The New York Times as the newspaper's media columnist."It's been the privilege...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)The federal deficit is projected to keep rising over the coming decade, driving US debt to the highest level since World War II over the next 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday. The annual...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN)Facebook, Ford and other high-profile companies have told their employees not to travel to China as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread.The Wuhan outbreak has claimed more than 100 lives and caused corporations across China to shut...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner made the case for President Donald Trump's Middle East plan Tuesday, praising the relationship his father-in-law has with Israel and admonishing Palestinians not to blow their "big opportunity.""What you've...

Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign acknowledged on Tuesday that it has, over the course of several months, responded to concerns from minority staffers about key decisions made in the campaign and its overall culture of inclusion.The...