The last special elections of 2017 are in the books, and what a year it has been! Drama, excitement, narrative-busting, and Democrats coming out to vote in droves, all of it capped by Doug Jones winning a Senate seat in Alabama. There have been 70 D vs. R contests. Of those, 24 seats were held by Democrats, and Republicans flipped just one. But Democrats flipped an incredible 13 seats out of the 46 held by Republicans, or almost one-third! (There were four more seats flipped in non-D vs. R contests as well; two in multi-way races in Georgia (R to D), one in a nonpartisan contest in Mississippi (D to R), and one in Louisiana, where no Democrat ran.)
Overall, Democrats were overperforming both Clinton and Obama numbers like crazy. This is not what we’ve been seeing in recent years. We’ve become accustomed to massive underperformance by Democrats in special elections. But not this year.
There’s a geographic pattern to the overperformance as well. In the map above, there’s consistently been overperformance throughout the South and Midwest (about which many pixels have been spilled in consternation). Not so consistent is the stretch on the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts south to Virginia. And consistent underperformance can be seen in Florida and Washington—even though Democrats still flipped a seat in each of those states.
Below, the final graph updates of the year for special elections.
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