Tuesday, Sept. 12, turned out to be a lousy night for Republicans.
Democrats just flipped one more seat from red to blue—the second pickup of the night and the sixth Democratic pickup this cycle. (Republicans have yet to pick up a seat from Democrats in a contested election.)
Tuesday night’s victory in Oklahoma not only brings the total number of Democratic pickups to six, but it brings the number of races in which Democrats have outperformed the party’s 2016 presidential results in these same legislative and congressional districts to 26 (out of 35 held since last November).
Democrat Jacob Rosecrants, a teacher with a passion for public education, won this special election to the Oklahoma state House 60-40 percent, becoming the first Democrat to win this district since 2012. He’ll replace Scott Martin, an Oklahoma Republican who actually didn’t resign because of a scandal (unlike several of his colleagues already this year). Trump won this district 52-41 percent last fall, making this win a 31-point swing toward the Democrat. What’s more, Rosecrants himself ran for this same seat and lost in 2016 … by the same 60-40 margin he won by on Tuesday.
This dramatic shift tracks with the massive improvement in Democratic performance in the majority of special elections at both the congressional and state legislative level since Trump’s election last November. The greatest of these swings—48 percent!—was also in Oklahoma, just last May.
This flip follows a pickup in New Hampshire earlier Tuesday night, and two other flips in Oklahoma in July. In May, Democrats flipped another state House seat in New Hampshire and a state Assembly seat in New York. In all four of these pickups, the Democrat not only won but also over-performed the presidential numbers numbers last fall by double digits, by margins that range from 11 percent to 39 percent. And while everyone loves a sexy pickup, Democrats have also defended key seats—many of them very difficult holds—in the Iowa, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and South Carolina legislatures.
So not only are Democrats winning by flipping seats from Republican to Democratic hands, but even when Republicans manage to hold on to seats in these special elections, they’re scrambling to cling to historically red seats and eking out tiny wins in previously uncompetitive districts.
Republicans can’t afford to continue struggling like this if they hope to hold on to majorities in state legislatures and the U.S. House this cycle.
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