‘Special’ Elections

Capitol-at-night

And so. I read a gushing piece in The Huffington Post about the ‘special’ Congressional election result in Kansas, that shook the very foundations of Washington.

Sigh.

Ok. Let’s take off the tin-foil hats. And do the reality check thing. You folks in the US aren’t used to following what you call Special Elections, what we in the UK call By-Elections. In the UK, it’s a regular hobby, right up there with stamp-collecting, and watching those paint-by-numbers TV programs, with the white guy and the Afro.

Bottom line? Unless there are focus groups and sub-polls producing evidence of massive numbers of folks changing parties, or declaring that they know, without a doubt, what they are going to be doing in two year’s time, Special Elections mean zip.

First and most important thing. Forget the %’s. Pay attention to the actual numbers. And so:

2016 (General Election):

Republican – 166,998
Democrat – 81,495

2017 (Special Election):

Republican – 63,505
Democrat – 55,310

The Democrats did not ride a wave of new or swing voters. They lost votes. That is the reality. They just lost less than the Republicans.

Now, add to this the fact that an awful lot can happen in two years. Between 1992 and 1994, Bill Clinton lost enough support to lose the House of Representatives to the Republicans.

Between 2008 and 2010, Barack Obama lost so much support that, again, the House of Representatives switched from Democratic control to Republican.

Then again, between 2016 and 2018, the Democrats did so little that they lost a Presidency, a Senate and a Congress all the media assured them they were going to win. Especially once Trump became the Republican candidate.

Granted, there may be a bit of a silver lining in all this portend. But it should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion. And certainly not on the basis of one Special Election, held less than 100 days into the most chaotic Presidency in the history of those still gifted with living memory.

Rejoice. Celebrate. Lift a glass. And then return to the hard work of actually finding new Democratic voters and swing Republican voters to convert. And please, please stop indulging in hyperbolic, inaccurate and premature media headlines – in outlets that should know better …

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