Last Tuesday, Georgia held a special election for its Atlanta House seat, which was vacated by Tom Price, who joined the Trump administration. Price won the seat in 2016 by nearly 24 percent, but still, Democrats were hoping that it would be a referendum on the Trump administration and Democrats would pull it out. They didn’t. Ossoff lost to anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ über-Christian businesswoman, Karen Handel. The margin, though, was a slim 3.8 percent.
Narrowing that gap by more than 20 percent didn’t keep liberals from hand-wringing and doling out blame. Democrats blamed Nancy Pelosi, who has very little input over congressional candidates, but was nonetheless subjected to right-wing misogynistic and anti-gay smears (Pelosi is straight but, according to right-wingers, she has “San Francisco values.”)
While it’s true that Ossoff was somewhat less than inspiring (come on, not every candidate can be Barack Obama or even Bernie Sanders), Democrats’ favorite hobby of self-flagellation is a bit unwarranted. The turnout numbers are in and they are one of the most encouraging numbers we’ve seen in years.
One of the arguments of doom and gloom include the fact that Ossoff got nearly the same vote as Hillary Clinton, which somehow must mean that absolutely nothing has changed in the 150 plus days Trump has been in office. While that statistic, in a vacuum, is quite discouraging, it’s apples and oranges. Special elections tend to have very low turnouts. Democrats tend to have the lowest turnouts — partly because of voter suppression (which Georgia had in spades) and partly because we’re lazy, we cynically refuse to vote for candidates who are less than perfect and we’re generally disengaged.
In Georgia, though, Democrats had the largest off-year election turnout in over a decade. It even broke recent mid-term records, which is pretty amazing for a special election.
The records indicate that past Democratic primary voters turned out at nearly the same rate as past Republican primary voters (Primary vote history is the most readily available measure of partisanship in a state without party registration, like Georgia.)
Over all, 75 percent of voters who last voted in a Democratic primary turned out in the second round of voting, compared with 76 percent of those who last voted in a Republican primary. The turnout rate among voters who have never voted in a primary was 34 percent.
This might not sound like a great Democratic turnout, but it is pretty rare for the Democratic turnout rate to roughly match the Republican turnout rate, at least in a high-turnout election. Certainly, that’s been true in Georgia’s Sixth: In 2014, Republican primary voters turned out at an eight-point higher rate than Democratic primary voters did, 77 percent to 69 percent. In the 2016 election, it was a three-point gap, 89 percent to 86 percent.
Source: Washington Post
That trend isn’t just in Georgia either. Percentage of Democratic turnout is rivaling Republican turnout in all the special elections.
No, we have not had good luck in the special elections, but all of them have been in heavily red districts. Do you really think Paul Ryan would let Trump take one of his Congressmen if he didn’t think Republicans would hold on to that seat? We were supposed to lose that election. It’s Republicans who should be sweating because as the numbers prove, Democratic mobilization is working. Just wait till there’s an election in a competitive district.
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