HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLED: Democratic gains produced no victories in special congressional elections.
won special elections for congressional seats in Georgia
and South Carolina
Democrats can find moral victories in how much better their candidates performed in all four races than past challenges in the district, but the only points on the scoreboard go to winners. And that count is 4-0.
was the loss of Jon Ossoff
in Georgia to a truly terrible Republican candidate, Karen Handel
. She won 51.9 to 48.1, a wider margin than Donald Trump
had in the district (1.5 percent) over Hillary Clinton.
Handel was an unabashed Trump supporter who dismissed the importance of health care as an issue. She's homophobic in the bargain, on the record as saying gay people weren't qualified to be parents. In one of the country's best educated districts, she won. Ossoff ran as a centrist, emphasizing health care. He won the early vote, but got tromped in election day voting.
In South Carolina, a lightly financed true Democrat, Archie Parnell, finished behind Ralph Norman in a much closer than expected race in a strongly Republican district — 51.1 to 47.9. Again, no points on the scoreboard for moral victories.
These WERE strongly Republican districts (more than 40 years in the case of Georgia.) Democratic performance improved dramatically against past congressional races in the district (a Republican win by 16 points in the last election in Georgia). That offers some hope for other districts on the ballot in 2018. But not as much as had been hoped before the polls closed. And the Republican crowing will be loud, long and likely important in the congressional health care debate.
On an Arkansas
note: These results could play a role in shaping congressional races
in Arkansas this year. Democrats have already committed in the 2nd and 3rd Districts. State Rep. Clarke Tucker
is still considering the 2nd District as well and I got a report yesterday that incumbent GOP Rep. French Hil
l, or an ally, was in the field with a poll testing attitudes about Trump and Tucker in the district. The prospect of an uphill climb — particularly given Ossoff's defeat despite all the money in the world — has to be a disincentive to potential candidates.