has Yesterday there were four special elections for open state legislative seats. Republicans won three of them. But before you assume that’s good news for the GOP—take a look at how Dave Weigel summarized the results.
Democrat Dennis Degenhardt won 43 percent of the vote in Wisconsin’s 58th Assembly District; in 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 28 percent of the vote there, and no Democrat contested the seat. In Iowa’s 6th House District, Democrat Rita DeJong won 44 percent of the vote; in 2016, the party’s nominee won just 35 percent. In South Carolina’s 99th House District, Democrat Cindy Boatwright lost with 43 percent of the vote; the party had not run a candidate for the seat in this decade.
In other words, Democrats ran very competitive races in three deeply red districts that went heavily for Trump in 2016.
The really big news comes from the race in Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District, where Democrat Patty Schachtner beat Republican Adam Jarchow 55-45 to flip a seat held by the GOP since 2000. The Republican who previously represented the 10th district (and stepped down to take a cabinet position with Scott Walker) won in 2016 by 26 points. Donald Trump won there by 17 points, and Romney won the district by 6 points in 2012.
Here’s the total tally from yesterday:
Here is a breakdown of Democrats’ over performance tonight in all 4 contested special elections:
SC #HD99: D+13.08%
WI #AD58: D+24.90%
WI #SD10: D+27.52%
IA #HD06: D+20.44%
That is an average Dem over performance tonight of D+21.49%
— Aaron Booth (@ActorAaronBooth) January 17, 2018
Scott Walker is up for re-election in 2018 and, if he wants to keep his presidential hopes alive for the post-Trump era, he needs to win. Obviously these results are bad news for him.
Senate District 10 special election win by a Democrat is a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) January 17, 2018
Here’s what has Walker worried about the gerrymandered Republican legislative districts in Wisconsin:
Fun fact: if the GOP candidates underperform Trump in every Wisconsin Senate district this November by as much as they did in yesterday’s special, they would only win 3 of 33 districts.
— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) January 17, 2018
But his job is on the line too.
We found Scott Walker trailing a generic Democrat by 5 points in October and tonight’s Wisconsin special election results sure didn’t make us question that finding
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) January 17, 2018
There have been a lot of attempts to gage how Democrats will fare with white suburban and rural voters in 2018. Here’s a look at what happened yesterday in Wisconsin’s 10th district, which is just across the river from the Twin Cities:
Basically, Democratic turnout in the district’s suburban areas swamped Republicans in rural areas. It’s true that turnout in November will likely be higher than it was in yesterday’s special election. But Schneider is comparing the results to turnout in the 2016 presidential election. What we see is that white suburban voters aren’t just abandoning the GOP—they’re turning out enthusiastically in a special election to vote for a Democrat. Scott Walker has every reason to be worried.