Last night, Republicans won a special congressional election in Arizona. This might seem like a purely good thing for the GOP, but paradoxically, the race wound up being yet another sign of the trouble the party keeps finding itself in. In fact, as we head towards the November midterms, it turns out that Republicans have lost major ground in just about every special election this year—even in the races they’ve actually won.
To see what I’m talking about, look no further than Arizona, where last night conservative Republican Debbie Lesko beat Democratic challenger Hiral Tipirneni by nearly 10,000 votes in a special election for the state’s Eighth Congressional District. Good news, right? Nope. At last count, Lesko’s victory was by a six-point margin in a district Donald Trump carried by a whopping 21 points. That’s a 15-point deficit from where they stood just two years ago. And Republicans had to spend $1.2 million to keep the seat. This is pretty bad news, no matter how much President Trump crows on Twitter.
And the hits kept coming on Tuesday evening. In New York, Democrats managed to flip an Assembly district in Long Island that Republicans had held for 40 years. And not only did the seat flip, but it flipped decisively—59 percent to 41 percent.
These Republican losses come after similarly demoralizing defeats in states like Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and perhaps most notably, Alabama. And while the reasons for these surprise Democratic victories are varied, the broad national picture is one in which Democrats are energized, while Republicans are increasingly demoralized.
Of course, plenty can happen between now and November, and a Democratic wave is absolutely not a sure thing. But it’s clear Republicans have something of a mess on their hands at the moment.